Brees WMD-NFL, Saints Bounty remark gets military's attention

wmdHow bad will Drew Brees WMD analogy error comparing weapons of mass destruction to the NFL's bounty case impact the New Orleans Saints' pride and joy?

Saints quarterback Drew Brees offered an interesting analogy for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's case that some Saints coaches and players were involved in a bounty program. He says it's reminiscent of President George W. Bush's case for the Iraq War.

"If NFL fans were told there were 'weapons of mass destruction' enough times, they'd believe it. But what happens when you don't find any????"

Brees has apologized for the way he worded his comparison of the NFL's evidence in the Saints' bounty program to President George W. Bush's administration evidence for weapons of mass destruction.

"I apologize if the WMD comment offended anyone, especially our military. There is no one I respect more than our service men and women. Brees wrote on Twitter: "My WMD comment has nothing to do with politics or our brave military. Merely an analogy to show how media influences public perception."

The apology came after Brees, who also owns retail businesses in New Orleans, took some criticism when he wrote on Twitter on Monday that the NFL's public case that the Saints players and coaches deserve to be suspended for their roles in the bounty program is no more accurate than the Bush administration's public case that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.

Brees is getting some support, though. The Military Times wrote, “New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has trained with Marines. He’s visited service members in the war zone, in his backyard and in places few visitors, much less Super Bowl winners, go to. Even his pregame psych-up chant is based on a Marine cadence.

So, when he fired off this tweet in response to the NFL’s handling of his teammates’ suspensions stemming from an investigation into bounties being put on opposing players, some might have seen it as out of character.”

Military times continued, "Was the original tweet offensive? Did Brees need to apologize? Regardless of your stance, one thing’s the same across all these issues: Actions speak louder than tweets. Or words. Or 50,000 pages of evidence that shrinks to less than 200 and then don’t appear to be particularly convincing. Even the most sensitive reader of the quarterback’s Twitter feed should keep his prior generosity to the troops in mind."

Evidence less than expected in bounty case

The suspended players met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who suspended them, didn't change his mind and the players are still suspended, as predicted. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma stormed out of the hearing while it was in progress, claiming he couldn't get a fair hearing with Goodell ruling. However, Vilma's complaints are aimed in the wrong direction, he should blame the CBA, who gave Goodell the power to rule the league as he sees fit.

On Monday, as reporters were scrutinizing about 200 pages of what the NFL says are from a 50,000-page file of evidence in the Saints' bounty program, Brees wrote on Twitter that he isn't buying it.

"If NFL fans were told there were 'weapons of mass destruction' enough times, they'd believe it. But what happens when you don't find any????"

The Bush administration repeatedly said Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, a claim that most Americans believed and that turned out to be false. Bush later called this his biggest regret as president.

Brees shouldn't hold his breath waiting for Goodell to call suspending the players his biggest regret as commissioner.

Most of the documents produced by the NFL to the NFLPA contain no evidence of a bounty program, a few of the pages kept the case alive. But it may not be enough to constitute persuasive and adequate proof that players paid, offered to pay, or received money for inflecting injuries – especially without the handwritten notes and in the absence of testimony from the persons who created them.

Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt has been accused of contributing to the bounty pool. Attorney David Conwell says the NFL has never, in written communications and in three face-to-face meetings, accused Vitt of putting money into the program. It's unclear why the NFL would now contend that Vitt contributed money, if he was never accused of doing so.

Outside counsel Richard Smith claims that NFL counsel Mary Jo White attended the Monday hearings to "read the report of an investigation she did not conduct, but the league prohibited her from answering questions from the players. Smith called the league's investigation "sloppy.”

Is there proof the Saints had a bounty program for three years? No. Some of it is circumstantial. Is it convincing? Much of what the NFL showed was; the NFL laid out its case meticulously and impressively.

The league had a cooperating witness in former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who oversaw the bounty program.

Williams, in effect, told NFL investigators everything. Every detail of the bounty system. Every nugget. Every fact. Williams told the investigators that by utilizing a pay-to-injure scheme he was mistakenly "rolling the dice with player safety and someone could have been maimed."

Williams cooperated with the league because he would like to return to coach in the NFL again. Goodell suspended him indefinitely.

Saints owner Tom Benson cooperated with investigators and showed them papers.

If this was a case handled in a court of law, the suspended players would win, but with Goodell judging and ruling the NFL, they will lose.

News and Notes

Brees didn't make the Forbes Magazine list of the top 30 $- earners in the NFL. The top money-maker in the NFL is Peyton Manning who ranks 10th among all pro athletes. Manning's total income was $42.4 million. Haloti Ngota is second in the NFL at $37.3 total and Larry Fitzgerald is third at $36.8 million. Manning's salary/winnings is $32.4 and he makes $10 million in endorsements. Top $-earner is boxer Floyd Mayweather at $85 million for two fights. No. 2 among pro athletes is boxer Manny Pacquiao at $62 million...Boxing a dying sport?...

From Pro Football Talk...

Even though the NFL's appeal process doesn't amount to a full-blown legal proceeding, the players accused of participating in the Saints bounty program could escape responsibility on the same basis that plenty of criminals do – by relying on a technicality.

Key language: Failure to timely provide any intended exhibits shall precede its introduction to the hearing.

Key word: shall.

SOME HITHER, others yon: Saints GM Mickey Loomis will be busy during this eight-game suspension as director of the Hornets with NFL approval. He will be able to meet with Saints owner Tom Benson and team president Dennis Lauscha during his eight-game suspension. However, the NFL doesn't want Loomis to perform any Saints duties while with Benson and Lauscha. In March, the NFL suspended Loomis for the first half of the 2012 season in connection with the league's bounty investigation...

Former LSU standout Aaron Hill hit for the cycle on Monday in Arizona's 7-1 victory over Seattle. Hill hit a single in the first inning, a triple in the third and a double in the fifth. He completed the major's second cycle this season with a homer in the seventh...In losing to Stony Brook in the super regional, its name should have been Story Back...

Here's reason from agent Jack Bechta on why NFL players go broke: "I tell my friends that if I opened a specialized rim shop serving pro athletes, instead of being an agent, I would be a rich man. The same goes for custom jewelry. Unfortunately, I noticed that many athletes associate wealth with material possession. So they feel like the more they have, the richer they are. I would say 90 percent of all athletes are getting ripped off on auto and jewelry purchases. I had one client who had a watch appraised that he thought was worth over $20,000 that he paid for it. The appraiser valued it at $1,500. The diamonds he thought he had on the watch weren't real. The obsession to have the latest and greatest buys, the bigger house, the newest car(s) and most expensive cloths is probably the No. 1 wealth killer for pro athletes. Rich people have things, wealthy people have investments."...

(Gear up for the summer with LSU/Saints apparel at La. Sports Talk.com)

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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