Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Saints bounty scandal took some more strange twists yesterday, as interim head coach Joe Vitt called the commissioner and offered to take a lie detector test to prove he did not offer $5K toward a bounty on Brett Favre.
You'll recall that on Monday when the league released some of its evidence against the Saints, it included a typed transcription of a purported bounty ledger, but strangely omitted the original handwritten notes the transcription was based upon. On this typed transcription of the alleged ledger, one entry reads, "Vitt -- $5,000 QB out pool."
This was the first suggestion of any kind by the league that Vitt had contributed to a bounty pool, and the NFL even acknowledges they never made such an accusation during their investigation. Why? Because apparently they didn't feel these handwritten notes were sufficient evidence to make such a claim.
Naturally, this prompts an obvious question which Mike Florio does raise: if this handwritten evidence is not enough to implicate Vitt as contributing to a bounty pool, why is it being used at all, and why is it deemed sufficient in proving the guilt of others?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The he said/she said of the league's bounty investigation continues. On Monday, NFL outside counsel Mary Jo White told reporters that Mike Ornstein had corroborated a claim that Jonathan Vilma put $10K each on the heads of Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. But in an interview with PFT's Mike Florio, Ornstein vigorously and repeatedly denies ever having done so. Vilma responded to this news by suggesting the NFL is lying.
Vilma's ex-teammate Anthony Hargrove, accused by the NFL of saying, "Give me the money" on the Saints sideline after injuring Favre, read a lengthy statement claiming it wasn't he who spoke those words.
Meanwhile, Florio says that when the NFL ended up showing some reporters a bit of their evidence on Monday, they did so having decided to do so on the fly, perhaps realizing they were losing the PR battle. Plus, the league is giving the suspended players a chance to challenge the evidence via written submissions; the Ginger Hammer will meet with Senator Dick Durbin today, and the two will speak publicly afterward.
Updated 9:08 am ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! There was plenty of drama yesterday in NYC, where the NFL held the appeal hearing for the Saints bounty case.
Saints LB Jonathan Vilma left the hearing early, claiming the league refused to present evidence of the alleged bounty system. Vilma's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, called the day's events "shocking and shameful" while saying that former DC Gregg Williams and former assistant Michael Cerullo had retracted their admissions that players had participated in such a system. Ginsberg accused the Ginger Hammer of distorting facts, misrepresenting the words attributed to Williams, and manipulating the media via information leaks.
Following the hearing, the league gathered a group of reporters, including Mike Freeman and Peter King, to present some of the evidence, which can be seen here. A $35K bounty was allegedly placed on Vikings QB Brett Favre during the 2009 NFC title game, but this is according to a typed transcription of handwritten notes which were not shown. The league even accused Saints interim coach Joe Vitt of contributing to the bounty fund for the first time yesterday.
Now, PK writes a lot of stupid stuff, but this is really high on the list of Stupid Stuff PK Thinks He Thought to Think. Sproles is a versatile player for sure, and a dangerous one at that, but he's also more of a receiver and return man than he is a running back, and do we really want to go around ranking him on a list with Marshall Faulk, LDT, Thurman Thomas, and Marcus Allen?
As for which players should be sitting on this list instead of the Sproles type, that's easy. How about rushing/receiving threats Roger Craig, Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Warrick Dunn, and Ricky Watters, to name a few?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! An old, great Denver nemesis has decided to call it a day: LaDainian Tomlinson will sign what will presumably be a one-day contract with the Chargers this week so he can retire with the franchise he spent his first nine of eleven NFL seasons.
Tomlinson was drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in 2001 after the team traded down from the #1 pick (Michael Vick). Incidentally, that trade also netted them WR Tim Dwight, whose career highlight was a 94-yard kick return TD against the Broncos in SB 33. With their own second-rounder that year, San Diego drafted Drew Brees.
But, back to LDT: although Tomlinson's career against the Broncos amounted to just a 10-9 record in 19 games (including one as a Jet in 2010; he didn't play in last year's meeting), Denver's success against his teams mostly came early. To wit, LDT's Chargers went 3-7 against Denver before winning six of the next eight matchups following the ascension of Philip Rivers to replace Brees as the starting QB in 2006, with one of the two exceptions being the notorious Hochuli Game.
Updated 12:20 pm ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ah, the NFL is so sly. After getting the football and sports blogosphere in a gigantic tizzy over the forthcoming availability of All-22 film to the general public, they've already pulled a fast one on us all by increasing the price by $10 overnight.
Obviously, it's still a great deal, and All-22 access will mean better football writing across the board. Charley Casserly and Mike Freeman think this will open coaches and players up to unreasonable criticism, but really this makes no sense at all. More information and knowledge is always a good thing, unless you're coming from the parochial viewpoint of someone like Casserly who probably figures lowly fans won't know what to do with the added info. Or, perhaps you're one of those fools who thinks that either film or stats alone is all you need, or you know...you played/coached the game in junior high school, so you have a feel for which guys have "it" and which don't.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The team wrapped up its mandatory minicamp yesterday (BTV, photos, more photos) with a demand from John Fox (video) that each player return to training camp on July 25 in the best shape of his life (ITBSOHL).
Former Colts OC Tom Moore was again in attendance, and had the following to say about his star pupil Peyton Manning:
Watching these three days, he looked excellent to me. There's lots of things that enter into it, obviously, accuracy, anticipation, touch, arm strength, you know, it's an all-involved thing. He looks good. He looks excellent.
Practice was highlighted by a couple of tipped interceptions of Manning, improving mechanics from Brock Osweiler, and more first-team reps for Rahim Moore and Sealver Siliga.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's minicamp will conclude today, to be followed by a long spell of inactivity until training camp begins on July 25.
More deep passing from Peyton Manning highlighted yesterday's work, as did the progression of Knowshon Moreno to seven-on-seven snaps from the individual drills he'd been confined to by his rehab from ACL surgery. Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter continue to rotate with the first team, with yesterday bringing up Moore's turn; Rafael Bush practiced ahead of David Bruton.
Oh, and Peyton even spent some time working on his pass-rushing skills. Can anyone say Greatest Modern Player to Play Two Ways?
Ty Warren says he's feeling great but needs to improve his conditioning and absorb more of the new defensive playbook. He's weighing in at 310 pounds now - 30 fewer than he did a year ago - and expects to play at 300-305 come the regular season.
Ben Garland has been working with the third-team defense, considers himself a longshot, and says he'd embrace a trip to the practice squad.
Updated 9:45 am ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's lone mandatory minicamp kicked off yesterday (BTV, photos), with kicker Matt Prater the only no-show, as expected. There was a brief injury scare as Demaryius Thomas jammed a finger, and Tracy Porter and Danny Trevathan (who worked with the first-team nickel package) each intercepted Peyton Manning off tipped passes. Knowshon Moreno and Chris Kuper continue to work back from injury, while Julius Thomas remains inactive.
John Fox and Peyton Manning (videos) spoke after practice; Fox and others reiterated that D.J. Williams's playbook page tweet was no thing. But we knew this already, since TJ made it quite clear, even while others were freaking out. Fox, Manning, and Willis McGahee say the team is striving for offensive balance and a commitment to running the ball. We'll see about that.
McGahee says the presence of Manning has him working harder than ever, and Eric Decker says Peyton's demanding expectations are testing players daily.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's mandatory minicamp starts today and runs through Thursday.
The team will welcome Derek Wolfe back after NFL rules forced him to attend classes at Cincinnati and miss the team's OTAs, but they apparently won't have kicker Matt Prater, who has neither signed his franchise tender nor agreed to a long-term deal.
Denver can also expect nothing on the field out of Julius Thomas, but for a different reason - the second-year tight end is still recovering from his April ankle surgery.
How will the tweet-happy D.J. Williams be greeted by coaches today? The non-Broncos coach Jeff Legwold spoke to says he'd hit D.J. with a massive fine and think about dumping the guy. But as much as many folks would like to see D.J. replaced, it doesn't quite the team has enough talent at the position to afford the loss.