Brees speaks on Saints’ bounty case ruling
At Drew Brees’ weekly press conference last week, the New Orleans Saints quarterback spoke on how he felt about the overturned ruling on the Saints’ bounty case that included: the vacating of suspensions for players Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith and former Saints Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove. Brees also talked about not making excuses for the team having a 6-8 record.
Former NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, ruled last Tuesday on the Saints’ pay-to-injure bounty case. Tagliabue confirmed the “factual findings” of current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell but vacated any penalties to the players.
“I think that this was some serious vindication. Certainly they’ve been through a lot, (they) had to go through a lot,” Brees said last Wednesday. “Basically what got overturned was 31 games of suspension, millions of dollars of salary, but most importantly their reputations. Thank God for the fight and the resolve that all of those guys have for justice and to fight for a fair process because that’s all that they’ve ever wanted. That’s all that anyone within this organization has ever wanted.”
Brees did not shy away from saying he wanted Goodell to be held accountable in the way he handled the situation. Brees said he feels they (NFL) should be held to the same “strict code of conduct on and off the field” as the players are.
“If someone would just come out from the league office and admit that they could have handled this situation better, it would go such a long way with both players and fans,” Brees said. “I think people have really come around to realize what this thing was all about from the beginning.”
“Right now, the league office and Commissioner Goodell have very little to no credibility with us as players and, I’d say, with a lot of the fans because of the way that this has taken place,” Brees said.
Brees said he had a good feeling the bounty decision would be completely overturned because many knew the truth of the matter and know how unfair the process has been.
He said he was just “hoping, praying that (Paul) Tagliabue would see it as such.” But, even with the positive ruling, Brees still didn’t like the stain the situation will leave on the Saints’ organization.
“I’m very happy we were able to get the players vindicated and their suspensions dismissed but you could see in the decision yesterday that it was still very defamatory towards our organization, our coaches and some of the terms used about the contamination of the evidence and us standing in the way and the lying, the manipulating and that kind of thing,” Brees said. “That’s unfortunate that we were still painted in that light.”
With all of the off-field distractions, suspensions of the players and coaching staff, many would blame that to be the reason for the Saints struggles this season, especially now that the rulings are overturned. Brees doesn’t think so though.
“We have done our absolute best to try to stay focused and eliminate distractions and fight through it. It is what it is,” Brees said. “We’re in the situation we’re in. We’re 5-8 and we’re trying to finish the season. It, obviously, did not meet our expectation level, the result of the season. It’d be very easy to sit here and make excuses and blame other people but we’re not going to do that.”