The NFL announced the punishments for the New Orleans Saints and their staff for their actions in the bounty program put in place under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Williams would offer cash rewards to Saints players for knocking opponents out of games. The NFL warned the Saints to stop the bounty program, the Saints claimed they had it taken care of, and then the Saints continued to let it happen.
The result is the Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for a year, Williams has been suspended indefinitely, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games, the team will lose this year's and next year's second-round picks, and the organization was fined $500,000.
Oh, I forgot assistant coach Joe Vitt will be suspended for six games.
It is a very severe penalty for the organization and Williams, who recently signed on to coach to the defense in St. Louis. But one that is deserved.
I've heard countless players and former players act as if the bounty program is not a big deal. They say players know the risks and there is nothing wrong with players making clean hits that result in injuries.
First, it is clearly against NFL rules to pay any kind of bonuses not stipulated in contracts.
Second, the Saints were warned. They could have gotten off easy if they just listened to the league and put a stop to it. Instead they let Williams continue paying his players if they hurt others.
Third, some of the hits that probably resulted in thicker wallets for Saints players were certainly good, clean football hits. But you can't tell me it wasn't in the back of the players' minds that if they hurt a guy, they're getting paid a couple thousand dollars.
Others that are upset with this ruling will quickly point to the New England Patriots and Spygate. I heard numerous callers and DJ's on Philly radio today talking about how they thought Spygate threatened the integrity of the game and should therefore should have been punished more severely than the bounty program in New Orleans.
Any regular readers of this blog, if any are left after my three-month hiatus, know that I strongly dislike the Patriots and Bill Belichick. But come on. Giving players incentives to hurt other humans, cash incentives, is messed up. It's worse than videotaping defensive signals. Belichick should have been punished a little harsher than he was, but not more than those involved with this bounty program.
Those suspended and fined deserved it. I just feel bad for the New Orleans fans who did nothing wrong but will suffer.
Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk