The NFL and NFL Players Association met for over two hours in New York on Monday to discuss the Saints “bounty” issue.
Representatives from the union were to meet with league representatives to discuss any evidence the league has gathered. NFL.com reported earlier Monday that the union seeks clarity and hard evidence that any players were directly involved in any “pay-to-injure” schemes.
In a statement, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told Pro Player Insiders that the players association will seek due process for any players involved and seeks fairness throughout the process.
Prior to the meeting, Smith said, “Our duty is to view and understand the evidence and to ensure it is substantiated and concrete. We also have an obligation to ensure that our players have fair due process. It is not our duty to give recommendations for discipline in a vacuum without information or without consultation with our players. It seems as if this entire matter has played out primarily in public, with regard for the fairness of the process an afterthought.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to agree with the issue being played out in public. “I think we all need to move forward,” Goodell said according to ESPN.com. “We’ve been open about what we’ve been able to find. We released it publicly.”
“Our team will meet with the NFL today, ask hard questions and will expect to see all documents and direct evidence of a pay-to-injure scheme. That is what a fair process dictates. I will get a full briefing by our team and after that, the next step will be to consult with players about what was learned. Only then will we confer with the NFL.”
Earlier Monday, union spokesman George Atallah told NFL.com, “We want to get some sort of look at concrete evidence of player involvement and levels of player involvement. That is why looking at the evidence is important to us. At least there is a correlation to where the punishment fits the crime, if you will.”
Smith’s comments Monday make it clear that the union wants to be fully informed before any further consultation with players takes place. It is placing great weight in doing its due diligence to review all pertinent information the league gathered during its investigation.
For our previous exclusive interview with DeMaurice Smith, follow the link to Q & A With NFLPA’s DeMaurice Smith