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    Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    Source: Roman Harper, Jo-Lonn Dunbar earned cash incentives for hits during Saints playoff win

    By Michael Silver | Yahoo! Sports
    Wed, Jun 6, 2012

    When documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon visited NFL headquarters three weeks ago to play a much-publicized Gregg Williams audiotape, league security officials were particularly interested in a sequence in which the former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator announced $200 rewards for "whack" hits by cornerback Roman Harper and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar in last January's playoff victory over the Detroit Lions, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

    While a league source said Dunbar, who has since signed with the St. Louis Rams, and Harper are unlikely to be subjected to disciplinary measures, the revelation was considered significant because the league viewed it as additional evidence of a bounty system that was the focus of a three-year investigation.

    However, two NFL Players Association sources strongly disputed that characterization, defining a "whack" hit as a forceful yet clean and legal play by a defender, and thus a "pay-for-performance" issue that is a far less severe violation of league rules.

    "A 'whack' hit isn't a hit that injures a player," insisted one defender who played for the Saints during Williams' three-year tenure as coordinator. "It's the equivalent of a 'pancake' for an offensive lineman a clean hit that knocks a defender on his ass. Everyone who knows Gregg knows what that means."

    Last January, on the night before the Saints' playoff defeat to the ***** in San Francisco, Pamphilon attended the New Orleans' defensive team meeting at the team's hotel. The filmmaker was working on a documentary featuring retired Saints special-teams hero Steve Gleason, who is suffering from ALS and attended the meeting as a guest of the franchise.

    When Pamphilon sent a copy of his audio recording of Williams' speech to Y! Sports in April, fueling the public uproar in the wake of the bounty scandal, the names and uniform numbers of Dunbar, Harper and other players were obscured in an effort to protect them from potential league discipline.

    Pamphilon, as he revealed in a recent essay on his website, had consulted with Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita both members of the NFLPA's executive committee before releasing the audio. He had also arranged, at Fujita's request, for the tape to be played for union officials.

    While NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and other union leaders weren't opposed to Pamphilon releasing the audio, and believed it would help them defend players (including ex-Saints defender Fujita) facing potential NFL discipline by marginalizing Williams as an out-of-control coach, the timing turned out to be incendiary: The Y! Sports story broke just hours before Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt arrived at league headquarters to appeal their lengthy suspensions to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. (Williams, who had since been hired as the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator, did not appeal his indefinite suspension, which is expected to last at least through the 2012 season.)

    In the week leading up to the coaches' appeal hearing, the NFLPA, according to two knowledgeable sources, had reached out to Payton and had privately discussed the case with the suspended coach. In those discussions Payton, according to one of the sources, encouraged the union to advise players under investigation to answer questions from league officials truthfully.

    From the union's point of view, according to a source, Payton's willingness to share his perspective made the timing of the audio's release regrettable, as it appeared the coach had been hung out to dry. Smith, according to Pamphilon, had also expressed reservations about the release to Fujita shortly before the story became public. The Browns linebacker then passed along that sentiment to Pamphilon, telling the filmmaker that Smith felt the surfacing of the audio shortly before the hearing "may or may not be beneficial to Sean Payton."

    Payton's year-long suspension, like those of Loomis (eight games) and Vitt (six), was ultimately upheld by Goodell. However, a source close to Payton said the coach did not view the release of the audiotape as a major factor in his appeal being denied and does not blame the NFLPA for the story's unveiling.

    Reached via text message, Payton declined to comment on the matter.

    Pamphilon, in his recent essay, complained that an unnamed NFLPA official's statement that the union had been "somewhat disappointed" with the release of the tape was disingenuous given Brees and Fujita's interest in having it made public. The union's reluctance to burn Payton would seem to reconcile its position in that regard.

    The NFLPA has helped Sean Pamphilon in the past few years in an effort to tell the critical story of health and safety in professional football and the inspirational story of Steve Gleason," George Atallah, the NFLPA's executive director of external affairs, said Wednesday. "We have already been transparent about the fact that we were aware of his now infamous recording of Coach Gregg Williams before he made it public. We have nothing to hide, especially given that the contents of that recording are now public and were never in our possession at any time before he decided to make it public.

    "The more time we spend discussing Sean's view on these matters is less time spent discussing what he was trying to accomplish by releasing the footage. The fact remains that we have seen no evidence linking players to a pay-to-injure scheme."

    Brees, who declined to comment on the matter via text message, wasn't necessarily opposed to the identification of Dunbar, Harper and other Saints players on the audiotape when Pamphilon made it public, according to a source close to the quarterback. Brees' desire, the source said, was to convince Pamphilon to include an explanation of the term "whack" hit in the story, explaining that it was merely for a forceful blow without intent to injure. However, Pamphilon decided to release the audio (with names and uniform numbers of all Saints players obscured) before consulting further with Brees.

    On May 2, Goodell announced the suspensions of four players for their role in the scandal, with New Orleans middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma getting shelved for an entire season. Defensive end Will Smith got a four-game suspension, while ex-Saints Anthony Hargrove, now with the Packers, and Fujita got eight and three games, respectively. Vilma, Fujita and Smith have publicly denied being part of a pay-for-injure scheme.

    All four players, via the NFLPA, have challenged the suspensions, and Vilma later filed a defamation suit against Goodell resulting from the statement issued by the commissioner announcing the penalties.

    Pamphilon, who had previously been asked to share the tape by an NFL security official, traveled to league headquarters a day earlier with a copy of the audiotape. He was escorted to the basement of the midtown Manhattan office building and, while sitting at a long conference table, played the tape from start to finish for NFL security chief Jeff Miller and investigator Joe Hummel, who two weeks earlier had submitted his resignation but stayed on through the conclusion of the Saints probe.

    The meeting was confirmed by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, who said Wednesday, "A few weeks ago Mr. Pamphilon appeared at our office and offered his cooperation regarding information he wanted to share about the Saints' bounty matter. Our security staff agreed to speak with him and did so."

    Hummel, according to Pamphilon, took notes throughout the meeting and was particularly interested in the section of the speech in which Williams announces payments for various defenders for achievements in the previous week's playoff victory over the Lions. When Williams tells the group that the "first envelope" will go to "JD" who, according to Pamphilon and another person who was in the meeting, was Dunbar the linebacker appears to refuse the money, instead putting it back into the pot for the current week's game.

    "You want it?" Williams asks.

    "[Expletive] no," a voice answers, as others in the room applaud.

    "OK, it's $200 you got it for a 'whack,' " Williams says. The rest of his words are drowned out by loud cheers.

    Williams then singles out Harper by uniform number, saying, "41, one whack, $200." Others in the room yell, "Give it back," and Harper, like Dunbar, seems to comply a common practice among Saints defenders.

    Neither Dunbar nor Harper, through their respective agents, returned messages from Y! Sports seeking comment. It is unclear for which specific plays against the Lions the two players had been rewarded.

    The sequence, Pamphilon said, was treated with significance by Hummel and Miller.

    "As soon as they heard 'whack,' they looked right at each other," Pamphilon recalled. "Hummel stopped taking notes and looked up. They actually paused and put a recording device on the table right next to [mine] and played it back so they could capture it. They wanted to make sure they had it.

    According to a league source, no other current or former Saints players including Harper and Dunbar are likely to be disciplined for their roles in the scandal, though new information could always compel the NFL to reopen the investigation.


  2. #2
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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    When Williams tells the group that the "first envelope" will go to "JD" – who, according to Pamphilon and another person who was in the meeting, was Dunbar – the linebacker appears to refuse the money, instead putting it back into the pot for the current week's game.
    Interesting. I wonder if Dunbar had an aversion to the Bounty System?

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    Idk about u guys but I'd rather have a guy that was part of the bounty instead of a guy that was on the team and didnt do anything.... Atleast we know he's a big hitter!

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    Is a suspension upcoming for Dunbar?

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
    Is a suspension upcoming for Dunbar?
    Quote Originally Posted by The Article
    According to a league source, no other current or former Saints players including Harper and Dunbar are likely to be disciplined for their roles in the scandal, though new information could always compel the NFL to reopen the investigation.
    Let's hope this league source has his facts straight. JD seems like one of our more solid OLB's, and I'd rather not see him walk. The fact that he didn't take the money may help his case.

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    It's concerning to me that throughout this whole thing we still haven't actually seen decent evidence that a bounty system was in place. There has been a ton of news reports, a ton of speculation, but where is all the evidence?

    I'm not surprised that Vilma has filed suit. He has had his reputation tainted, but there has been no actual evidence produced to show his involvement.

    If you have the evidence, show us. If you don't, let these guys play football.

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    It's concerning to me that throughout this whole thing we still haven't actually seen decent evidence that a bounty system was in place. There has been a ton of news reports, a ton of speculation, but where is all the evidence?

    I'm not surprised that Vilma has filed suit. He has had his reputation tainted, but there has been no actual evidence produced to show his involvement.

    If you have the evidence, show us. If you don't, let these guys play football.
    This isn't a court of law, Goodell is not required to just make available every scrap of evidence to the public, nor should he. I think it is ridiculous that portions of the public are demanding transparency instead of demanding that bounty systems be removed. This is a private entity conducting a private in-house investigation. Just because the people it is investigating have people who like watching them should not require them to open their confidential files to the public. Demanding access for the Union is one thing, for the public is another.

    In addition, The Saints have been investigated in the past, Williams other teams have been investigated. Where there is smoke there is usually fire, I can't imagine the NFL was just guessing at anything.

    If you don't believe that, I'd like to point out that Williams did not appeal his suspension, and instead issued an immediate apology for running a bounty system, and cooperated with the league in giving them information on the bounty system. You don't think the NFL got anything out of that? Or is Williams testimony less credible than the players who have a financial interest in continuing to lie?

    Here's my question, after all this chest thumping over "I never did ANYTHING! I haven't even HEARD of the word 'bounty'!!!!" ...what will the nay-sayers do if the NFL slams them with the evidence that they desire that proves they participated?

    Mini rant aside, and back to the subject at hand, it looks like the NFL doesn't plan to punish him, and my guess would be because they found he only received benefits and did not help run it. Most likely the NFL was trying to avoid suspending every player who ever got a payment because they would have to suspend too many, and are just trying to hit what it considers the ring leaders. Good news for us, and not surprising that Dunbar got something from the system while on the Saints, I'll bet almost everyone got at least something at some point, it would be hard not to.

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    I'm not demanding that bounty systems be removed because I have yet to see any actual evidence they existed. Why should I be in uproar that players would dare operate a bounty program when I don't even know for sure it exists.

    As for your comments about it being a private investigation, it doesn't seem private when you have articles like this telling you about a portion of the so called investigation. It's not private at all. You can't drag these players and people through the mud publically about operating a bounty program and then not show any evidence to prove it exists. Either go completely public, or keep it private.

    Whether rightly or wrongly, Dunbar's name has now been associated with the Saints bounty program. If he isn't going to be suspended, or punished, then his name should not have been released, especially without proper evidence and reasoning to do so.

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    Re: Silver: Jo-Lon Dunbar Earned Cash Incentives For Hit During Saint Playoff Win

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    I'm not demanding that bounty systems be removed because I have yet to see any actual evidence they existed. Why should I be in uproar that players would dare operate a bounty program when I don't even know for sure it exists.

    As for your comments about it being a private investigation, it doesn't seem private when you have articles like this telling you about a portion of the so called investigation. It's not private at all. You can't drag these players and people through the mud publically about operating a bounty program and then not show any evidence to prove it exists. Either go completely public, or keep it private.

    Whether rightly or wrongly, Dunbar's name has now been associated with the Saints bounty program. If he isn't going to be suspended, or punished, then his name should not have been released, especially without proper evidence and reasoning to do so.
    Outside of announcing punishment, the NFLPA is really the one that took it to the public, and continues to wave it around, much more so than the NFL ever has. Vilma also took it public by filing a lawsuit.

    As far as evidence leaks, the argument is two faced. If it names Dunbar, it's unfair that he was named. If it doesn't, it's false because it doesn't identify the source. It's a no-win scenario. Without Dunbar's name, the information loses credibility.

    Also, whether rightly or wrongly, as far as I'm concerned, every player on the Saints defense is associated with the bounty program. There is no way you can convince me some of those guys had no idea it was going on. Of course Dunbar knew, and prolly got something. It shouldn't come as a surprise.

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