It hasn't been the best month for Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints quarterback, who's been the face of the franchise and a key cog in the city's turnaround from tragedy since 2006 was handed the franchise tag on March 3 (a move that reportedly made him 'livid'), and that was right around the time the hammer came down on former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his alleged practice of paying his players to injure their opponents.
It was a black eye for the team, but it really hit Brees close to home when former Saints offensive lineman Kyle Turley went public and wondered what Brees might have known about the hits his teammates were putting out on other NFL quarterbacks. In Turley's mind, Brees knew all about it, and did nothing to stop it.
"Of course," Turley said on Miami radio about Brees' awareness of the situation. "You know everything that goes on in your locker room. It's not just a secret deal where okay here's these big incentives for all these bounties. I'm sure it wasn't just against Brett Favre, I'm sure it was the whole season. That stuff, you're a family, you're tight, you're close, and you share everything and there's nothing that you really don't know about people from your locker room.
"Of course. I'm sure he knew about it. After that big win when you come in that money isn't just secretly put in your locker, that money is taken out in front of everybody and thrown to you. That's the mentality that they want. That get rich quick thing is continuing to go on, and the attention to players safety, I don't know how much more I need to talk about it."
That's a lot for Turley to throw at Brees, who's been nothing but a stand-up guy throughout his NFL career. It's pretty implausible to think that a quarterback wouldn't know of such a practice, given how close players are in locker rooms, but Brees has earned the benefit of any doubt.
On Friday, Brees released a public statement, writing a letter directly to his fans, on his personal website. You can read the full statement after the jump.
This has been an eventful offseason for me and my family. Brittany and I would like to thank all of you for the thoughtful words and well wishes since we announced that baby boy #3 is on the way. While we were all disappointed with the way the season ended, the offseason has given us the opportunity to reflect back on what was a truly memorable year. It has also given me the opportunity to enjoy some much needed quality time with my family.
I do feel a responsibility to my teammates, the Saints organization and to the fans, to address the "Bounty" allegations.
There is no place in the National Football League, or any sport played at any level, for players to conspire, to be coerced, or to be incentivized to intentionally injure another player. I did not participate in any Bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence. I have spent the last several years as an Executive Committee Member of the NFLPA making health and safety a priority and I am proud of the advancements we've made and will continue to make.
As a leader of our football team, I feel comfortable in stating that I know well the integrity of our organization from the ownership level, to management, our head coach, and the players on our team. We, as Saints players, pride ourselves on playing this game with honor and hold ourselves to a very high standard. We also share a great sense of responsibility to our community and to each other, a strong belief in our purpose, a resiliency to overcome adversity and a work ethic and commitment to leave things better than we found them.
The accusations and perceptions alone created by this issue make us feel like we should all apologize to the young people that love our game and aspire to be in our shoes. Regardless of the outcome of the "bounty" issue, we owe it to them to provide the best example of how to behave as professionals and more importantly, as people of integrity.
To our fans, please reserve judgment until the investigation is complete and the facts in their entirety are known. We are all working diligently to find the truth in this matter and if the facts prove there was improper behavior, we will hold ourselves accountable. Until that time, we will stand together and remain united as an organization.
Thank you for your support.