Report: NFL could make available some evidence in bounty program investigation

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer
Vilma's attorney wants the NFL to release evidence and the names of those who the league interviewed. (US Presswire)
As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote Tuesday, the players union and the NFL are participating today in the appeal for punishments stemming from the bounty program that led to linebacker Jonathan Vilma taking a one-year suspension.

One criticism from the players is that the NFL hasn't presented the evidence that there actually was a Saints bounty program (the union doesn't believe Anthony Hargrove's declaration constituted the bounty program existed, just that he was told to deny that it did exist).

The union also doesn't believe commissioner Roger Goodell has the jurisdiction to suspend the players in the first place.

As to the first criticism, the NY Times reports the NFL has said it has plenty of evidence and even showed some to the NFLPA before suspending Vilma for a year, Hargrove for eight games, Will Smith for four games and Scott Fujita for three.

The league also might make some evidence public after the players appeals are heard, though the NFL will be careful to mask the identity of its sources. But the league also won't release much of the “raw evidence” because it's worried that players could identify some of those sources.

Latest on Bounty-gate
“If people hadn't been willing to come forward on the reliance of some commitment of confidentiality, we would never know about that,” one league official told the newspaper.

Not surprisingly, Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg, wants the names of the people who the NFL interviewed during its Bounty-gate investigation.

“It's important because Jonathan is fighting on two fronts -- he's fighting legally and to get his reputation back,” Ginsberg said. “It's important to get evidence or what Roger Goodell says is evidence.”

But you have to wonder that even if the NFL does produce evidence, will that satisfy the affected players and their attorneys? If their suspensions are not overturned or reduced, I'm guessing no.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.
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