There is no problem with New Orleans Saints players vigorously appealing and defending their rights. Just don't insult our intelligence by arguing that the players are somehow above playing politics.
"I mean, just the whole process itself and the investigation I feel like has been extremely unfair," Brees said. "Unfortunately, it seems like it's been more of a media campaign then it is actually finding the truth to the matter."
Listening to the players and the league go back and forth on bounties is depressing. It's like listening to Democrats and Republicans going back and forth on health care. Both sides are trying to score points. For Brees to suggest that the players are somehow above playing the media game is disingenuous. It's political. Fans are tired of that, too.
Everything I write for NFL.com is going to be viewed through the prism of working for the league. I get that. But I would be writing the same opinion if I were at my previous employer, ProFootballTalk.
Brees and his fellow Saints players have a strong argument to make when asking why the four suspended Saints specifically were punished. Why was Will Smith suspended but Roman Harper was not? Why was Scott Fujita's suspension five games shorter than Anthony Hargrove's? Why was Jonathan Vilma's punishment so severe when compared to those handed to the other players?
These are legitimate questions to ask. The players have rights, and one could argue whether we have legitimate answers to the questions above. But Brees hurts his legitimacy when he compares the NFL's supposed lack of evidence to the inability to prove the existence of WMD before invading Iraq. Or when he says the following:
"It was a shock when we were accused of that, because that's a pretty heinous accusation. So the entire time, for a lot of us, it's been, 'Show us the proof, put forth the facts, and if indeed it is proved that there was a pay-to-injure program in place, then, yes, there should be punishment enforced.' Unfortunately, to this point there's been no hard evidence to show that that was indeed taking place," Brees told Letterman.
He's trying to score points. The total package of evidence regarding the existence of a bounty program is more than compelling. (Even Dog the Bounty Hunter agrees.) Brees knows his organization willfully misled the NFL about the existence of a bounty program, then continued on the same path. He knows his former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, admitted that the program existed; his testimony informed much of the league's investigation.
ESPN.com's Andrew Brandt made an astute observation regarding the players' outrage over the process concerning the punishments:
"The time for that outrage was when the process was being negotiated, not now," Brandt wrote.
Darlington: Listen up, rook
The rookie symposium has provided a valuable message for incomers, but will it stick? Jeff Darlington reports. More ...
We'd love Brees to engage in an honest, frank conversation about what went on in New Orleans. But that's not what we get. We get politics; we get spin; we get phony outrage about the shock of accusations and the "media campaign" against the players.
There's no rule that says the players and NFL can't handle more of this behind closed doors. Brees is among the leaders when it comes to taking the fight public and to the fans. Both sides have engaged in a vigorous media campaign.
The only clear loser in the battle, just like with last year's lockout, is the NFL fan.