Saints Establish New Low … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

I believe it was that old pre-Internet hack from over on the other side of Missouri may have said it best. Mark Twain wrote “if you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.”

The modern day equivalent of that would be this – if you always tell a lie, you never have to remember what you said, because you can just make up another lie.

The New Orleans Saints found out Wednesday that living by the words of Mark Twain would have been far less painful than lying, and then lying even more on top of a whole stinkin’ pile of pooh.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down the most dramatic discipline actions in the history of the NFL on Wednesday. The Saints franchise was fined a half-million dollars and lost two draft choices. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for a year. GM Mickey Loomis was suspended for half of the 2012 season. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt gets a six-game forced vacation without pay and former defensive coordinator Greg Williams was suspended indefinitely; at the minimum he’ll miss the 2012 season.

It’s reported everywhere that the sanctions came because of the bounty program the Saints defense set up to reward players that injured or knocked opponents out of the game. But that’s only half of the story. I’m willing to bet the punishment would have been 50 percent off what it was had all those parties not lied to the league during the investigation of the bounty behavior.

Loomis, Payton, Williams and Vitt – they all lied, some multiple times. They denied even knowing about the bounty system. Payton held a meeting with Williams and Vitt before they spoke to the NFL for the first time in the investigation with the idea of making sure the Saints all had their “ducks in a row.”

The bounty system was reprehensible, but not unusual. Throughout the long history of the league, there have been plenty of other bounty programs or rewards for injuring opponents, especially quarterbacks. It’s always been part of attempt to create a hard-nosed defensive attitude.

There have also been plenty of cases where defenses have purposely gone about playing the game in a manner that was going to injure their opponents, and didn’t need any extra inducements or incentives to do it. Think the Raiders of the late 1960s through the early 1990s. Think of some of the players that were part of the Steel Curtain defenses in Pittsburgh in the 1970s, where they enjoyed knocking opponents out of the game and didn’t expect any extra penny.

What cost the Saints suspensions and millions of dollars was lying about the entire thing. Somewhere in his discussions with league investigators, Williams admitted that he knew what they were doing was wrong. Yet, he installed the program and kept on using it over three seasons.

The program was instituted at the suggestion of Payton, who asked Williams to do something to make the defense “nasty.” The NFL’s report also said that Payton asked Vitt to keep his eye on Williams who “apparently had less than full confidence in Coach Williams.”

Still to come is discipline for the players that were involved. The league is working on that with the players association and sanctions are expected in the next week or so. They should be severe.

Honestly, the players involved should be disciplined at a level higher than even their coaches. The whole idea of the bounties is to cause injury to another player. That’s something no player with half a brain should get involved with not out of professional courtesy, but personal survival. One minute you might be the arrow launched and funded by some sort of bounty. The next minute you might have a bull’s eye painted on your back with a bounty on your head.

Played in its purest form, football is a physical, brutal series of collisions that leave 100 percent of the participants injured in some fashion, both the serious and obvious maladies that leave scars and require surgery, and the not so obvious where effects do not rear their ugly heads for years, even decades.

In the latest agreement between owners and players, the working class asked for and received reduced time and energy in the off-season. There are restrictions galore now on activity between players and team from January to August. This was labeled as being part of a push for player safety.

Now, we have players on the Saints who were contributing to a pool of money so one of their defensive mates would hurt an opponent, all the way to the tune of $10,000 for knocking Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2009.

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up! Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a bunch of dummies like the Saints, led by their head coach and GM, re-establish the basement in athletic behavior.

Congratulations to Roger Goodell for standing up and not brushing the whole situation under the rug. This is a big, ugly and nasty story that produces the type of headlines that no business wants or needs. Unlike the Saints, the Commish stood up and confronted the problem in a manner that leaves little doubt how the league views the matter.

5 Responses to “Saints Establish New Low … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 22, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    They deserve every sanction they get. Establishing a team designed program to deliberately maim or injure players whose livelihood depend on their ability to continue playing is about as reprehensible as you can get. Lying about it after it was discovered alone warrants the seriousness of the consequences. If the coaches are idiots and set it in motion then a player or players have to be strong enough to tell them they want no part of an idiotic idea to stop it. I remember as a child having a head coach tell us to stomp on players arms and legs and do other things to try to injure opponents. Fortunately for me, I had an assistant coach with the good sense to explain how this was not the way the sport should be played. Unfortunately in this instance, no such clear head prevailed on a team of adults.

  • March 22, 2012  - el cid says:

    Bet the message got across. NFL is all about about image, tarnish it and look for the boot marks on your tail.

  • March 22, 2012  - R W says:

    This penalty should all but kill any THOUGHT of doing the same for other NFL teams which is what the comish was all about, sending that message and making an example. I’ve got to hand it to Goodell for being consistent and doing the right thing in dealing with this infraction.

    Some already are saying it was too harsh a series of penalties to hand out thus far. I’m not in that camp.

  • March 22, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    A player earning $600,000 a year or much more is not going to try to injure another player for $1,000. Unless they just wanted to. Find the players that made money from the bounty system and get them all out of football. Never, ever let them coach.

  • March 22, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    I also agree with what Goodell did to the Saints so far.
    As a Chiefs Season ticket holder for 34 years and an NFL fan for 50 years I was furious when I heard this about the Saints.
    It’s VERY different when coaches get involved in locker room bets/rewards. They have playing time control and should be coaches to the rules. It’s just disgusting what Gregg Williams did for many years with 3 different organizations. He should NEVER be allowed back in the league. He can go to the SEC where they will applaud this kind of behavior. The rest of the suspensions/penalties seem about right.

    The one thing I would have Goodell add is to make the Saints refund 10% of the cost for current season ticket holders this year. I guarantee you they had to renew their seats before this story broke. I know I had to with the Chiefs.

    If I was the owner, Benson, I would require Sean Peyton to do community service throughout the New Orleans area as condition to get his job back.

    I’m not naive here, far from it. Players do this all over the league. But that’s locker room stuff. When the coaches get involved it takes it to an entirely different level.

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