- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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An attorney from the private sector who advised the NFL during the Saints bounty investigation disputed linebacker Jonathan Vilma's claim that he did not intend to pay bounties for knocking Kurt Warner and Brett Favre out of playoff games in the 2009 season and the he never set out to intentionally hurt another player.
“The evidence overwhelmingly supported the charges,’’ Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney, said in a conference call with the media Thursday. “I haven’t seen the statement that Mr. Vilma may have issued. He plainly, as were the other players, was invited to participate with counsel in an interview to provide his side of the story if there was a different side of the story. He declined to do that.
“If you look at the press release issued yesterday, plainly the conduct there is quite specific as to bounties being pledged by Mr. Vilma. On two occasions, you know the identities of whom the bounties were placed on, the amount of the bounties and when they were placed. There is very, very strong evidence from multiple independent sources reporting those charges.’’
White also said that defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) said he was told to lie about the bounty program when asked about it in 2010. Hargrove since has signed a declaration admitting the bounty program existed and he took part in it. White was asked if Hargrove disclosed who initially told him to lie to investigators.
“He did, but I don’t think it is appropriate to reveal that,’’ White said.
White went on to repeatedly emphasize how strong the NFL's evidence was. You can read more of what she had to say here.