Former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey was dubbed the “snitch” in the Bountygate scandal by NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp this week.
Shockey vehemently denied the accusation, and since then has had his name cleared by Saints head coach Sean Payton via text message.
Payton, who was suspended for the 2012 season by commissioner Roger Goodell, seemed rather upbeat in a short transcript of the message.
Shockey tweeted a screenshot from his iPhone Thursday, saying, “The truth shall set u free! Read the text.”
"Coach sux to hear the news u know I love u and that sh*t is unfair!" said Shockey’s message to Payton, who was slapped with a one-year ban by the league Wednesday.
"Sapp is saying I was the rat wtf u know me and u know this is media bullsh*t."
Payton responded to the text about 30 minutes later, writing, "Shock your my guy and always will be!! I know you had nothing to do with that stuff sap said!! Hell you were in the offensive mtgs with me!!! Love ya. Sean."
The NFL handed down a slew of penalties to the Saints for the team’s pay-for-performance system, in which defensive players received cash bonuses for injuring opponents. Soon after the announcement, Sapp wrote on Twitter he had "heard who the snitch was."
When a follower asked if it was Shockey, the former defensive lineman responded, "BINGO!"
The allegation drew a swift response from Shockey, who played for Carolina last season.
"My *ss!!" the tight end wrote. "I don’t even play defense."
Sapp responded, "That’s not the issue."
Sapp, who currently works as an analyst for NFL Network, could face legal problems for publicly naming Shockey as the whistle-blower, Los Angeles-based employment lawyer Arthur Whang told FOXSports.com Wednesday.
Federal labor law protects employees against retribution as a result of complaining about unsafe work environments.
"Sapp is technically a league employee," Whang said. "If Shockey is the whistle-blower, he is protected. So, by outing him, Sapp may have opened Shockey up to retaliation, such as someone not signing him."
Shockey, who is currently an unrestricted free agent, played for the Saints from 2008 to 2010.
In announcing its punishments, the NFL said New Orleans, under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, had an active bounty program from 2009 to 2011.
The league’s determination led to a one-year suspension for Payton, an indefinite suspension for Williams, who was recently hired by the St. Louis Rams, and a six-game game ban for Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis also received an eight-game suspension, while the team was fined $500,000 and forced to surrender a second-round draft pick in 2012 and 2013.