NFLPA blind to hit-to-hurt program
By Bill Lankhof, QMI AGENCY
|New Orleans Saints tackle Jonathan Vilma tries to bring down Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner in a game two years ago. Vilma faces possible suspension for his involvement in Bounty-gate. (GETTY IMAGES)
The National Football League Players’ Association has looked at the evidence.
So far it appears they’re ready to declare themselves not guilty.
In a statement saying it was aware of an audio tape of coach Gregg Williams exhorting his players to hit-to-hurt, it also denies there is any evidence of players participating in a bounty program.
“We learned of the tape as part of our effort to obtain any and all information related to an alleged pay-to-injure scheme,” a union statement said. “... To date, the NFL has not provided the NFLPA with detailed evidence of the existence of such a program.”
In which case we have the deaf and dumb misleading the blind. The league suspected something was amiss years ago and dithered. That allowed the Saints to treat Brett Favre like a tackling dummy. And, it allowed a tackling dummy like Jonathan Vilma to allegedly put up $10,000 price on Favre’s head — or any other part of his body that a teammate could bend, fold or mutilate enough to get him out of an NFC title game. Not smart.
Which brings us to the blind; the union either isn’t getting the message, doesn’t believe the message, or is playing with semantics. The key phrase here might be “detailed evidence.”
What the league believes is “detailed” the union may insist is circumstantial. The league can argue that Williams, Vilma and other players, put up money to injure opponents. The union can argue there is no evidence that a player actually injured someone and was paid for doing so.
Meantime, Vilma has already reportedly told sources close to him that he expects to be suspended two to eight games. Not that it matters much.
The union may yet save his career, but the Saints already have given away his job, and he himself gave away his honour long ago.
Evidently New York sports fans don’t believe in miracles. Or, at least, not in miracle workers.
Tim Tebow, the Jets’ new backup quarterback, was booed at Yankee Stadium Sunday when he was shown on the giant video screen, sitting in a third-row seat.
Tebow, wearing a Yankees’ cap, grinned at the smattering of cheers which were drowned out by boos.
Normally the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in any town — mostly because he hasn’t had a chance to do anything wrong yet.
But, then, Tebow is anything but normal. He is a polarizing force on a team that specializes in polarization. Like Monday when Jets’ receiver Santonio Holmes, regarded as a destructive entity in the dressing room, told reporters at the team’s off-season workouts that he has nothing for which to be sorry.
Holmes argued with teammates in the huddle last year, was benched, and blamed quarterback Mark Sanchez for the team’s inability to make the playoffs.
Holmes shot back, “Why should I?” when asked if he had any regrets.
And, then, he did what many professional athletes do when they mess up. He blamed the media.
Denver signed Brandon Stokley to a one-year contract, reuniting him with Peyton Manning. Stokley played four years in Indianapolis catching 139 passes and 15 touchdowns from Manning ... Asante Samuel wants to stay in Philadelphia. The Eagles want to trade him. He hopes this is one game Philly doesn’t win. “I love it here. This is my home. I’ve never been to a place I love more than Philadelphia,” Samuel said. “It’s up to management. I want to be here.” ... Manning said he was pleased with the first day of off-season workouts with the Broncos but declined to speak about his health or arm strength ... Jaguars agreed to terms with receiver Lee Evans on a one-year contract.