No matter which side you took in this issue, one thing was for certain: somebody was going to be in serious trouble when the dust settled.
Today, SI reported that the players that were suspended as a part of the bounty scandal are eligible to play immediately and will all do so beginning this week.
The move ultimately brings Roger Goodell's motive and possible evidence into question. Despite a truly enormous 50,000 page report, which nobody read entirely, I'm sure.
However, this brings an even uglier stain to the situation. My opinion awaits you all after the jump.
Let's assume for a minute, before I get going on this topic, that each page of the 50,000 page report had roughly 250 words per page on it. The gold standard for reading, to my knowledge, is 500 words per minute. If you can read that fast or faster than that, you're good.
That's 2 pages per minute, so if you read every page at 500 words per minute, that would take you 25,000 minutes, or roughly 17 days, 8 hours, and some change of non-stop reading. If you read it for an hour a day, it would require more than a year for you to finish.
Nobody....and I mean nobody, spent that much time reading that whole thing.
If it even exists.
Putting that much information together would be insanity. It would require at least a dozen people working around the clock for months. Now we have a legitimate question as to whether there was any evidence of the players doing anything wrong.
Gregg Williams has gone on record and apologized for running a bounty program with the Saints. Did nobody take the money he was offering? It would be awfully naive to think that was the case. So now we have players who are claiming they did nothing wrong, but their coach apologizes for doing something, calls it a "terrible mistake", and quietly accepts his potentially permanent suspension without so much as a peep.
You can't have both, folks. Somebody is lying.
I love watching "Forensic Files" on TruTV. It's a really neat show and I've always been fascinated with how the smallest amount of forensic evidence can convict a killer. Now, what does this have to do with anything?
The grim narrator's favorite line in the show is, "<Killer> denied any involvement in the murder."
Perhaps if all the coaches had claimed innocence, this story would be different, but when both Payton and Williams don't raise so much as a peep, do you honestly expect me to believe that nobody did anything?
Sorry, that's not happening.
The NFL released 200 pages of their Godzilla Report to select people, and evidently the evidence was not enough to warrant punishment.
Here's where things get ugly. The NFL may not have anymore "evidence" in their pocket. Their "50,000 page report" might only be the 200 pages we heard about, and then we have a problem.
The wildcard in this situation was the NFL's warning to the Saints a few years ago. Clearly, the NFL saw something that was a problem, but because so little insider access is granted to locker rooms, there's no telling what went down in the Saints' organization. The NFL might not even know everything.
The firestorm has only just begun. 50 years from now, we'll look back on Roger Goodell's tenure as NFL Commissioner and say that he did a lot of great things for the league for safety.
But what about this? What about today?
Now players could potentially have a gripe against any suspension Goodell imposes on them. You thought a bounty system was bad, what about lawlessness? I doubt it will be taken to that extent, but now the door has been opened for that possibility, if only by 1/80 billion-abagajillions of a millimeter.
Then you have all of the former players, who could then sue the fire out of the NFL for not protecting the players against people who, in theory, would be willing to accept money to injure someone else, all because those former players were subject to people who did it.
So Gregg Williams admits to running a bounty program. Bounty is different from a reward in that a reward would be a running back buying his offensive line dinner every time he rushes for 100 yards. You know what? That's great. I applaud little rewards like that.
A bounty is when you stick your helmet in the side of someone's knee and receive money for it. That is a dirty reward. That isn't cool by any stretch.
This whole situation is sickening. One of the two sides here is wrong, and the worst part of it all is the only people who know are anyone involved with the Saints. It stands to reason that Goodell might not even know the whole story. Even the President of the United States does not - and cannot - know everything.
This is only the beginning of what could possibly be one of the ugliest times in the NFL.
And sadly, all we as fans can do is watch.