DeMaurice Smith derides 'sloppy' NFL bounty investigation

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The Saints bounty scandal is over -- almost. At the very least, the players involved have the ability to move on with their lives should they so choose after Paul Tagliabue vacated their suspensions Tuesday. But that doesn't mean the outcome was perfect for everyone involved -- NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, appearing on CBS This Morning Wednesday, said he was "disappointed" with the NFL's handling of the bounty scandal.

Smith also said that while he was pleased with the suspensions being lifted, there "certainly was no evidence that the bounties existed" and that he believed the NFL's investigation was "sloppy."

"Frankly, I'm still disappointed in the National Football League and certainly disappointed in the way they conducted an investigation, because I now know, having read and seen all the testimony, that there certainly was no evidence that the bounties existed."

"I was a prosecutor in this city for 10 years. I understand how to do investigations. The investigation the league did was sloppy. The investigation that they did was more outcome-focused than process-focus."

Asked if it was a good look to have Roger Goodell's authority undermined by Paul Tagliabue's ruling, Smith made it clear he didn't mind how it appeared at all.

"At times when you make a wrong decision, perhaps your authority should be undermined," Smith said.

And when Smith was pressed by the CBS This Morning crew about whether he believed there was a bounty issued by the Saints players, he spoke slowly and concisely to ensure that his message wasn't lost: He doesn't believe there was any bounty ever issued by Saints players.

"Having seen nearly 50,000 pages of evidence and nearly 20 hours of testimony, I know that there ... was ... no ... bounty put on players by Saints players," Smith said.

That contradicts, to a degree, what Tagliabue said in his ruling. The former commissioner believes that Saints players did violate certain rules when it came to a pay-for-performance system. However, he vacated the suspensions because the punishments were, in Tagliabue's eyes, too excessive.

We discussed on Tuesday whether or not that could ultimately lead to players filing additional lawsuits against Goodell and/or the league and/or the Saints for defamation. If Smith's words -- while asking for an apology from the league -- are any indication, it's quite possible.

"First and foremost, they should say they're sorry because they've maligned the character of good players. And if they certainly believe that they are right, the one thing Roger Goodell should do is release the transcripts and we'll all know they're right."

"The league has an obligation to search for the truth and I believe the truth is there were no bounties put on other players by Saints players," Smith said.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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