It might not seem like it, but I am really tired of talking about the Saints’ bounty scandal. Like every other fan, I wish it would just go away. But it seems to have the staying power of polyvinyl chloride, or government corruption. And it’s not because of people like me; it’s because of people like Jeff Duncan.
“What if the NFL is telling the truth?” Jeff writes in the Times-Picayune. ”What if the Saints had a bounty program in place, not only knew about it but fostered it, and then tried to cover it up when the NFL came knocking on their door? What if there is no conspiracy, just a concrete conclusion?”
Well gosh, Jeff, I dunno. What if the government really did take down the the World Trade Center? What if the moon landings were faked? What if I could reach up your ass and pull out a paisley unicorn? Some questions are more worth pursuing than others, I guess…and it all depends on the amount of reliable evidence. So you tell me. Did the Saints have a bounty program in place?
“According to Roger Goodell, the team—”
No, wait: let’s be clear. I’m not asking what Roger Goodell said about this. Did the Saints have a bounty program in place?
“Well all the evidence suggests—”
“Well, you know, the evidence. Uncovered by the NFL. According to—”
You’ve seen this evidence, then? You can report on it in a detailed manner?
“Well…no, see, that’s not how it works, man. It’s an internal investigation—”
I understand that, Jeff. What I’m struggling to understand is, why do you believe it just on the word of Roger Goodell?
“It’s not just Goodell, man. A former United States attorney and prosecutor, Mary—”
Excuse me again, but: that’s a qualification? She’s a former prosecutor, so we have to believe her? Jeff, did you ever cover news, or just sports? Besides which, the NFLPA has its own former prosecutor, so they just cancel each other out.
“But, but, but wait. Listen, listen to what she said, okay? She said
“… The evidence before the commissioner was quite clear, substantial and extensive. There is no secret here about the charges or the evidence of what happened.”
Jeff, you make my point for me. There is a secret here. I haven’t seen the evidence. You haven’t seen the evidence. Or if you have, you certainly haven’t reported it.
“But I have! I have seen it, man! I saw the tape of Gregg Williams before the 49ers game! I saw Anthony Hargrove celebrating after Favre hurt his ankle! And I know all about the allegations against Jonathan Vilma and—”
Allegations. Not evidence. Like if I said you were seen by several eyewitnesses dynamiting levees. That’s an allegation. Evidence is something a wee bit different from an allegation—something like a videotape of you actually planting dynamite in, you know, a levee. Or even a levee with a hole blown in it. So, where’s the blown levee in all of this? Where’s the hospital ward filled with football players who crossed paths with the Saints? Where are the records—or even eyewitness testimony—of actual money actually changing actual hands following actual injuries? Where, Jeff?
“Well, uh, in, in, in New York, you know, in the NFL head offices, Roger Goodell’s office. They’ve got all of it—”
All of what?
How do you know?
[Jeff shakes his head] “Look, man, this isn’t, like, a court of law, you know? We’re not obligated to stick to some, you know, evidentiary standard.”
You mean, we’re free to believe things based on no evidence at all?
“Yes! I mean, uh, uh, you know, man, you’re, like, putting words in my mouth that I didn’t say! The NFL has come up with, with…new shit has come to light, man! You know?”
All I know, Jeff, is that you’ve despised Sean Payton for years because he treats objects like reporters. To you, this is delicious comeuppance. You’re heavily invested in upholding the validity of claimed evidence that the NFL refuses to share even with the players union. So let me pose another question: what if the NFL isn’t telling the truth?
“Oh, come on, man. Like, every reporter covering this story knows the Saints are guilty. They all believe Roger Goodell is telling the truth. Don’t you believe in democracy, man?”
So all the reporters are on the same page with this?
Yeah, Jeff, well…sounds kinda like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? But never mind, never mind. Forget I brought it up. What’s your drink?
“White Russian, thanks. So, how’s the blog business?”
“Can I get a Pimm’s Cup?”
Shut the fuck up, Stu.