After four months, the following facts have now been established. The Commissioner, NFL personnel and their outside counsel:
-Ran a sloppy investigation that inexplicably included a decision to not question any of the coaches about the documentary evidence used as a basis for punishment.
-Punished players before they had the ability to confront, challenge or explain a single piece of evidence used against them.
-Launched a public campaign in the media to support the discipline and tarnish the reputations of players before any hearing, effectively destroying any claim that the Commissioner could act as an impartial arbitrator.
-Withheld any and all evidence from the players for nearly four months despite repeated requests for full information and full transparency.
-Falsely characterized witness interviews to draw false conclusions about players’ involvement in a pay-to-injure scheme.
-Retained a former U.S. Attorney to whitewash the investigation by employing her to conduct a media conference call affirming an investigation she was not part of.
-Employed the same former U.S. Attorney to today’s hearing to read the report of an investigation she did not conduct, but prohibited her from answering any questions from the players.
-Refused to make any coaches involved in preparing the supposed documentary evidence available for interviews by the players or at today’s hearing.
-Provided only 200 pages out of their claimed 18,000 pages of materials and refused to provide any materials that might be exculpatory.
-Without explanation, produced at today’s hearing a declaration from a team advisor who said that no bounty program existed.
-Inexplicably relied upon an article and a blog post written after the investigation had concluded and punishment had been issued as ‘evidence’ even though they had supposedly collected thousands of documents proving players participated in a pay-to-injure scheme.
-Refused a three-day adjournment and delay of the appeals hearing so that the players could perform a more comprehensive review of the documents.
In this matter, the conduct of the Commissioner and his representatives has undermined the fundamental process contemplated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Through this abuse, these players have been denied any semblance of due process and fairness.
At a time when some question the safety and integrity of the game, the failure by those charged to act responsibly and fairly have challenged our collective faith and confidence in the league.
-- Richard Smith, NFLPA Outside Counsel