Sean Payton got a one year, without pay, suspension from the NFL. The New Orleans Saints’ GM, Mickey Loomis is suspended for 8 games. The organization, owned by Tom Benson, was fined $500,000 and lost two second round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. A severe punishment, that everyone saw coming. And we even haven’t talked about Gregg Williams, who might never coach in the league again.
Bounty gate, or in its long name, the New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal, won’t be causing problems for the coaches alone. Roger Goodell has been biding his time, but now that it seems we’re pretty much finished with big news in the free agency market, the hammer of extreme justice might be heading towards the 22-27 players involved with the injuring-player bonus pool.
Goodell has a problem with the NFLPA, and not just in terms of keeping the good (until the next lockout) relations with DeMaurice Smith and keeping him within the decision making process regarding the players. Goodell wants to move hard, but he can’t do it fast, unwilling to tread murky waters without the NFLPA’s consent.
Another problem regarding the union is Scott Fujita, the Cleveland Browns linebacker and part of the Saints’ Super Bowl winning team. He’s a very respected member of the union. One of its leaders, and part of the 11-man executive board. Fujita was involved in, with debatable sums, the pay-per-performance locker room pool that the Saints are punished for. If Goodell wants to punish Fujita, it’s going to get extremely difficult.
The player everyone seems to agree on being in the most trouble is Jonathan Vilma, part of the Saints since 2008 and a three time Pro Bowler. Vilma, allegedly, offered any played who knocked Brett Favre off the field in that NFC championship game $10,000. Some people actually care about the Saints “cap cheating.”
The real question is how many games will Vilma see from the sidelines. The way the commish is heading, I won’t be surprised if it’s at least 8 games, and maybe something like Sean Payton. Making an example of him? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Feeling uneasy about the punishment? More about the notion that this is a surprise. Trying to make the Saints as villains, or unworthy of their Super Bowl title bugs me too. I refuse to believe that only one team in 32 actually goes out hoping to hurt people. Plenty of the guys get fired up that way. They just don’t bet on it, or just haven’t been caught.
The punishments are fitting, but the crusade for player safety isn’t going to stop players trying to hurt each other, or enjoy taking guys out. It just means that teams will be more closely watched, and trust rings will get smaller.