Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, the entire New Orleans Saints organization to a huge blow with the news of the bounty system floating and becoming national news, arguably the biggest scandal in the NFL we’ve seen in a long time, bigger than Belichick and Spygate. It’s more than a simple case of people doing the wrong thing, but rather doing it in a culture and sport that is all about physicality and violence.
It’s pretty simple that whatever that the Saints practiced under Gregg Williams was wrong. Players getting bonuses for injuring players – $1000 for players getting carted off and $1500 for getting player knocked out and never returning to the game. In the playoffs, these bonuses tripled.
Now the only question will be how severely will Williams, who has become the St. Louis Rams’ defensive coordinator after three years and a Super Bowl title with the Saints. How severely Sean Payton, the head coach since 2006, will be punished, along with GM Mickey Loomis, who was actually ordered to shut down the slush fund and whatever it was that was reportedly going on, and covered it up.
Criminal charges can come into play, not just inner league punishment that involves suspensions and fines. Players, under direct permission and motivation from their coaching staff, went out to injure players. I’m pretty sure that these things happen in terms of telling players to go out and ‘F&^* the other team up!’ in every dressing room, in every practice leading up to a game.
But a bounty system, a slush fund to reward those who hurt others? Too much for the NFL I guess, a league that shifts between poles of congratulating aggressive and physical play while acting the opposite regarding blind side hits and anything the commissioner finds too dangerous for his taste.
The fact that there’s a risk of injury every time a player makes a tackle or lowers his head in order to make his way through the defense? Doesn’t hold in this case. I find it hard to believe the Saints are the only team to ever practice these kind of methods, in professional or collegiate levels. They just did it under the wrong guy, and the franchise will pay dearly for it. And not just the team and the staff. It’s unlikely, but at least part of the 22-27 defensive players who were part of these bounty pools have dark days ahead of them. Maybe even law suits.
Tax evasion? I doubt anyone besides state officials care about that. That might bring another hammer of ‘justice’ on those involved, but that seems like a negligible issue for those who care about the game. I also heard the there might also be a case of false advertising regarding the fans coming to watch the games, but that sounds like another bad joke. I don’t think anyone expects NFL games to be injury-free, or actually believes that not one of the players takes joy, from time to time, taking a player out.
It might be a harsh thing to say, which hurts the “family” appeal some officials of the league want to send out, but in a league that breeds offensive lineman to unhealthy sizes, that the best athletes in the world accelerate at each other with their ability in inflicting pain a big part of their salary, it seems to me just a little bit hypocritical to sound so surprised that this kind of bonus system for injuries existed.