NEW ORLEANS—A former federal prosecutor hired by the NFL to evaluate its investigation of the Saints bounty program said the evidence of payments for hits on opposing players is "very strong."
Mary Jo White, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in her view this has been "an exemplary investigation."
Said White, ". Each charge is support by very strong, credible evidence, multiple sources, documentary evidence. Plainly in my life I had a lot less in many criminal cases. This obviously isn't, to obtain a conviction."
White said the players involved had the option to say no to the program and didn't.
White said the evidence was clear that the bounty program escalated as the Saints made their run to the playoffs. "Said White, "There is no question that in the 2009 playoffs, there was a great deal of escalation that occurred between the NFC division championship and the NFC championship game, including providing bounties on the quarterbacks in both of those games."
The NFL report said linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 bounties for any Saint who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner or Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of playoff games against the Saints in January 2010.
Vilma was suspended Wednesday for the entire 2012 season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
White made her remarks in an interview aired on the NFL network.