Friday, March 2, 2012

Did "Bounty-Gate" just shift NFC South balance of power away from Saints?

Kurt Warner is knocked out of a
 game against the Saints in 2010.
The NFL released an absolutely shocking press release today, saying that between 22 and 27 New Orleans Saints defensive players had carried on a "bounty" program from 2009 through 2011, putting money in a pool and then paying it out not only for fumbles and interceptions but also for "cart-offs" ($1,000 when an opposing player was carted off the field) and "knockouts" ($1,500 when an opposing player couldn't return). Bonuses were sometimes doubled or tripled during the playoffs.

The bounty program was apparently supervised by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis knew about it and did nothing about it apparently. Owner Tom Benson said he didn't know.

Panther wide receiver Steve Smith -- who has had a number of conflicts with Saints' players over the years -- told Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm about the Saints' bounty program: "Doesn't surprise me. Wouldn't expect anything less from them."

Said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement: "The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players. The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity."

The NFL investigated this and now is about to lower the boom. There will be fines. Suspensions. (Williams, now the defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, has admitted his role and will be seriously punished). The Saints face a likely loss of draft picks, too -- the first one they hold in the 2012 draft, though, is only No.59 overall. Here's New Orleans newspaper columnist Jeff Duncan's reaction to the news in an interesting column that predicts the scandal will follow the Saints for years and forever tarnish the Super Bowl they won.

To me this is worse than "Spygate," when New England was caught spying on opposing teams. This flies in the face of all the NFL's safety improvements. The Saints look like they have been caught red-handed and they are about to pay a heavy price.

So will it shift the balance of power away from the Saints? (And as some of the "Scott Says" commenters are saying below, don't you now have to wonder about Roman Harper's late hit on Smith this past season? I'm sure Smith does -- and yes, I know Smith can't exactly take the moral high ground on hitting people, but still that Harper hit was so ridiculous.)

A quicker way for the Saints to turn into a bad team would be for Drew Brees not to re-up with the Saints -- and I think he will eventually re-sign with New Orleans. Remember, this is just about New Orleans defensive players, and the Saints' remarkable offense apparently won't be affected.

But the loss of at least one future first-round draft pick -- which I believe will happen maybe in 2013, and I think this will be a multiple-draft-pick penalty before it's all over -- will damage the Saints. And defensive suspensions will further muddy the water. At the very least, the Saints will be a good team to play early in the season when suspensions would take effect (barring appeals).

Bottom line: The Saints just got clocked. Their feel-good Super Bowl story from 2009 will never feel nearly that good again. But more than that, the balance of power in the NFC is ripe for shifting. Atlanta and Carolina are the two teams most primed to do something about it if New Orleans falters.

And you know what? If all this is true -- and the NFL's report certainly makes it sound that way -- I hope someone does take over for the Saints. Because what they allegedly did is absolutely disgusting. I'm not naive enough to think this doesn't happen elsewhere in the NFL -- although I have never heard of such a thing with the Panthers -- but the Saints' level of blatant rule violation is shocking.

In a statement released by the Rams, Williams (the "Pay-for-Pain" administrator and also an occasional contributor to the Saints' bounty pool of money, according to the NFL) said: "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again."

Do you believe him? "We knew it was wrong while we were doing it..." Hmmm..... And so why didn't Williams stop it again? (Incidentally, I imagine Williams is done as St. Louis's defensive coordinator -- he will "resign" or be fired or something after this. At least he certainly should be).

Now why wasn't it stopped in New Orleans? Because it was working, of course. That's the sad part. The Saints won the Super Bowl when the bounty program was apparently at its height.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

We'll find out if Roger Goodell like out president, more style than substance.
Tom Benson didn't know about it. Yeah, right.

Bill Campbell said...

Did you put any thought into this post at all? Drew Brees ain't going anywhere. The Saints don't have a first round pick this season to take. The main culprit was Gregg Williams and he is already gone. Payton won't be suspended. This isn't 'disgusting' it's football, it happens everywhere, they just got caught. Will have zero effect on their on the field performance next season.

Anonymous said...

Scott, you're too nice. Saying things like "I hope" instead of being outraged and calling for heads to roll is weak sauce. Take a stand.

Panthers12 said...

How pathetic. The Saints should have their name wiped off the records book, including that Super Bowl win. Those who watched the NFC title game between the Saints and Vikings saw it happening, but the media is also to blame as they needed their feel good story. The thing is, they didn't even have to play cheap against the Vikes as they beat themselves anyway with all the fumbles and BAD coaching (12 men on the field). I hope the Panthers never stoop to this level.

Archiguy said...

Well, if the Saints had a bounty program, the Steelers and Ravens must have one too. I hope the League is investigating them as well. Sean Peyton should be fired if he knew and did nothing about it.

John said...

As a Vikings fan, I've always believed they went out of their way to hurt Brett Favre. It wouldn't bother me at all if Gregg Williams next job was working the drive thru line at the local McDonald's. As for Tom Benson, well, you have to remember that he made his money selling used cars. So he didn't know about it? Imagine that.

TheDude said...

This is a huge story. The rest of the NFL is going to be really ticked off about this, knowing the Saints' defense was willfully trying to injure them.

Anyone remember Roman Harper's cheap shot on Steve Smith last season, when he was five-yards deep in the end zone after scoring? I wonder if that was part of this bounty thing? Suddenly a lot of what I've seen out of the Saints the last few years is starting to make sense, bunch of punks.

Grifman said...

Bill Campbell said...

"Did you put any thought into this post at all? Drew Brees ain't going anywhere. The Saints don't have a first round pick this season to take."

Did you put any thought into your post? The league could take a first round pick from the Saints the next time they are due one. It doesn't have to be this year.

Grifman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg said...

I say take all of their draft picks this year, reduce their cap space and suspend Sean Payton for the year. That would send a message to the Saints as well as the nfl. The NFL has taken a serious stance in regard to players safety and the actions by the Saints organization is a slap in the face to Goodell and the NFL. And yes we know other teams do this but not to this degree. I'm sure the NFL will come doen hard on them.

Anonymous said...

How hypocritical of the NFL. They allow a sadistic dog-killer in Michael Vick to play and get paid big bucks doing it but lower the boom on the Saints.
ALL the nuts should be punished.

John said...

Sounds like Greg Williams should be banned from working in the NFL!

John said...

Bill Campbell,

This is the NFL, not Soccer. Maybe you've been watching the wrong sport.

Anonymous said...

Payton doesn't call plays anymore... Gave that up last year.

that should be a no brainer for an NFC south reporter.

Dan said...

Remember Roman Harper's post-touchdown hit on Steve Smith here on October 9, 2011? Bounty! It was no secret. Go get 'em Goodell.

Anonymous said...

Greg Williams and Sean Payton should absolutely lose their jobs over this if true. Going after a man's livelihood for cash in the pokey?

Anonymous said...

I was not hard to see that they played dirty football on defense, now I know why.

Anonymous said...

sportswriters are going to get all dramatic over this .....yawn....tabloid coverage and not real sports writing.

i guarantee you many teams do this, who cares if it is going on. makes the game better if the players are all playing hard.

Anonymous said...

Doesnt seem that big of a deal to me. Any NFL fan knows this stuff goes on...

Its a violent sport played by big, mean men.

That's why I like it..

Anonymous said...

"Benson didn't know." SI is reporting that Benson told Loomis to stop the program, but Loomis did not.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 7:51pm, stop your ignorant whining about Michael Vick already. He took his punishment, end of story. You bleeding-heart, cry-about-an-EFFING-dog-but-stand-by-with-your-thumb-up-your-sphincter while-children-are-abused-everyday TURDS ought to be lined up and drowned. You make me sick!

Red Hiney said...

Harper's cheap shot at #89 does make sense now...more so than just thinking he was a worthless punk. I just hope that, as some of the uninformed readers here are speculating, that this doesn't go on with most teams. I truly don't think the Panthers players do it, for one thing I don't think we're nasty enough sometimes. And to the guys posting about how this sort of crap should be condoned and applauded...you need to be watching roller derby. Fits your IQ.

Anonymous said...

The Patriots and the Saints deserve to have asterisks next to their wins, particularly their superbowl wins. The Patriots won 3 superbowls by 3 points each and they knew the defensive signals for the opposing teams the whole 2nd half of every game. Since winning those games and getting caught they have lost the two superbowls they played in with no cheating. That leads me to believe they probably would have lost the 3they won if they have not known what the defense was going to do. The Saints knocking players out of the game on purpose deserves to be severly punished. They could have put players out for life intentionally and that deserves some serious punishment. Anyone making excuses for them is sick and should stop watching football.

Anonymous said...

The Patriots and the Saints deserve to have asterisks next to their wins, particularly their superbowl wins. The Patriots won 3 superbowls by 3 points each and they knew the defensive signals for the opposing teams the whole 2nd half of every game. Since winning those games and getting caught they have lost the two superbowls they played in with no cheating. That leads me to believe they probably would have lost the 3they won if they have not known what the defense was going to do. The Saints knocking players out of the game on purpose deserves to be severly punished. They could have put players out for life intentionally and that deserves some serious punishment. Anyone making excuses for them is sick and should stop watching football.

Anonymous said...

The Patriots and the Saints deserve to have asterisks next to their wins, particularly their superbowl wins. The Patriots won 3 superbowls by 3 points each and they knew the defensive signals for the opposing teams the whole 2nd half of every game. Since winning those games and getting caught they have lost the two superbowls they played in with no cheating. That leads me to believe they probably would have lost the 3they won if they have not known what the defense was going to do. The Saints knocking players out of the game on purpose deserves to be severly punished. They could have put players out for life intentionally and that deserves some serious punishment. Anyone making excuses for them is sick and should stop watching football.

Anonymous said...

Dog loving idiots always amaze me. To say someone hurting or killing a dog is the equivolent to intentionally injuring a human being is stupid. Michael Vick did not kill or injure dogs on a football field during games. It did not put other teams at a disadvantage for the rest of the season. His actions off the field did not endanger human beings. The Saints were the opposite, it was all about hurting players on the field, during the games. That should be punished in no uncertain terms. They have to be made an example of, enough so to discourage any other team. Dog lovers and bigots pretending to be dog lovers should sit down, shut up, and take care of their own dogs and leave other people out of their judging everyone.

Anonymous said...

You Observer sports writers are so stupid...that's the point of the game, you morons. To maul the other guy so he doesn't get up.

It's Sunday afternoon violence, packaged as entertainment.

Mike W said...

Who dat?

Anonymous said...

So the panthers will get better because the saints will lose some draft picks? Just a dumb story scott!

Anonymous said...

What the Saints did was wrong, no doubt about it. They deserved to be punished. Harshly. But what's funny (and ironic) about this whole situation is how all the Patriots fans are now saying... "oh, this is worse than Spygate. What they did was worse than us so lets forget about what we did." Sorry Patriots fans, what the Saints did was worse but it by no means makes what you did any better. You still cheated. And we all know it. If it wasn't for a video camera and Adam Vinateri Belicheat and Brady would be 0-5 in Super Bowls.

JD Harris (Great American) said...

Now it's coming out that Williams had the same policy in Washington. I'm hoping this guy is done as a coach.

Anonymous said...

u kiddin.............guess ya think this will make the panthers a better team next year!! LOL!!! EVERY team does this......ITs football! get over it.......slow news day for ESPN.....saints defense sucks...........all the hits on farve and warner were clean...watch the film.................need something to help the panthers from being the annual celler dwellers they have become........

Anonymous said...

@Bill Campbell...like you put alot of thought into your post. If they don't take the Saints first rounder b/c they don't have one, it'll obviously be next season. And you don't think their peformance will be hurt? Try playing without twenty seven of your defense out- the number of players that were involved. They'll all be suspended.

Anonymous said...

The NFL is a violent game played by big guys who frequently end up their days as brain-damaged old guys.

But so what? Americans love violence. Especially Americans who love the NFL. They're the most violent of all.


I don't know why anyone should be shocked, SHOCKED that this happened.


I predict other teams are already thinking of ways to do the same thing and not get caught.

Robert Hunt said...

Rather than take away just draft picks, the NFL should take away the Saints franchise tag for this year.

Wait and see how sorry they'll be if Drew Brees is allowed to hit the open market. Don't forget that last summer Brees, as a member of the players negotiating team, lobbied to get himself exempted from the tag.

Losing Brees would hurt the Saints worse than any future draft pick would.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:36, Really? If Goodell is like the President then the Republicans are like the Saints. A bunch of cheating, lying Thugs with no Style or Substance.

panthereastcoast said...

Do Ya think those Saint fan's still have those ridiculous Paper Bags they use to put on their heads? Isn't that where the Who Dat nation originated? Lmao!

Bill said...

I'm starting a new bounty program:
100 bucks to everyone who punches Sean Payton and Gregg Williams in the gonads.

Will also pay 1,000 bucks to any NFL player who 'accidently' crushes these two low-lifes on the sidelines before, during or after a game.

Anonymous said...

There should be arrests and jail terms involved. Paying people to illegally injure other people is against the law.

Anonymous said...

It starts from the top and the League needs to do a thorough investigation and suspend and/or fire those that had involvement from a managerial standpoint. It sounds like Williams and Payton knew about it so they should definitely be impacted. Suspended for 4 games will not cut it. This should be a year suspension from football or 8-9 game at the minimal. They should lose 2012 (yes this year) first round draft pick, possibly even a # 2. Why wait until 2013. They need to be punished sooner rather than later. Lastly, the Team should be fined significantly. How can Benson not have known?? They really need to investigate that as well.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, intentional violence wins Super Bowls.

That's the takeaway for everyone, I feel certain.

"I am shocked, SHOCKED!"

:rolleyes:

Anonymous said...

Who cat capitalism! If you think this hasn't happened in the nfl before you are naive. Its football- hit back...This story is a part of the wussification of america.

steven danner said...

just take away their franchise tag,and see where brees lands.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge panthers fan. This is a non story. Is that not the point of this game is to beat the crap out of the opposing team. Every play I am hoping the QB gets creamed by Charles Johnson. Some of these guys are risking $25,000 dollar fines for hard hits on the quarterback, Does goddell really think this small amount of money makes the difference. It is the competition that drives the hits. A good hit on someone is worth far more than $1500 dollars to a player on and off the field. Mr Goodell himself is payed of big hits. I know because I pay him myself when I buy his product by tunning in for the physical nature of football. We are not tunning in to watch people runn around scott free. Steve Smith has no room to talk about exessive violence.. tell it to Ken Lucas's face.

Anonymous said...

Just as much as the Harper hit, I remember Scott Fujita going after Smith's knee a couple of years ago after he had been stood up and the ref blowing the whistle that progress was stopped. It was obvious what he was doing, trying to take him out. That's stuff that ends careers. Make 'em pay! They're the dirtiest team in the league for a reason...now we know the reason.

Anonymous said...

Go Saints.

So its OK for Smith to coldcock anyone but not OK for Harper to teach him a lesson?

Smells like they are trying to extend protection for Slop Newton since it expired and the pro bowl showed he was a frail weakling wus pussy pretender. The AFL did more than baby tackle him causing him to fall apart.

Maybe QBs need to be more like Tebow who has no neck and 6'4" 255 benching 550 squats 800.

Tebow easily runs over LBs and is bigger than any FB. Thats why they are jealous. He cant be hurt. He is the hunter not the hunted and hurts others as the only true passing running QB in NFL history. He will dominant the next 10 yrs.
Print it. Wus Newton is a joke.

Bill said...

Anon @ 11:01am:

If the intelligence level of the Saints' fans is any indication, it's not surprising they got caught.

Also, what does any of this have to do with Tebow???

Anonymous said...

From what i have read the concensus punishment will include fines, suspensions & the loss of draft picks. They already don't have their 1st rounder this year because of a trade. I have read several articles which suggest that the NFL may take their 2nd & 3rd rounders this year and next years 1st rounder. Looks like the draft will be a little boring for Ain't fans.

Anonymous said...

Let someone take a cheapshot on Brees and hear them cry. Of course, we don't cheapshot and try to cheat be taking out people's kness, so we wouldn't know how that feels, you know, what it feels like to be so low. I love that they come to our blog and run that mouth. Their fans are dirty and classless too. Looks like the 'Aints are back!

Anonymous said...

Sean Payton should be suspended for a year at least. Williams should be banned from the NFL.

Anonymous said...

Not only should the coaches lose their jobs and face suspension, the players involved should lose their jobs. Intentionally hurting a player is a crime. Where are the cops? Oh wait, its New Orleans...

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Saints are going to go back to becoming the "Taints" of the bottom end of the NFC South...

Funny how Saints fans are so cocky. You guys were nothing before that Super Bowl. Better break out those paper bags.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Saints are going to go back to becoming the "Taints" of the bottom end of the NFC South...

Funny how Saints fans are so cocky. You guys were nothing before that Super Bowl. Better break out those paper bags.

Anonymous said...

Man stop all the hating on the Saints. People just mad they are finally a fixture in the NFL. Get over it ya clowns. Who Dat? Yall must of forgot we from Nawlins!

Anonymous said...

If you read any football books by former pro athletes, you will note that it is not unknown for the pros to retaliate. Most jobs give bonuses for success. Why not pro sports? After all the pros are being paid to play. I do not equate this with spying on another team like Bellicheck was doing. This sounds more like an incentive to get the job done!!

Luke Cage said...

Don't care what the Saints did. Changing of the guard in the NFC South was coming anyway. The Warner hit came on a change of direction due to Warner throwing a pick and looking to tackle the CB and not keeping his head on a swivel. Who really wants to go after Cam. He's bigger than the lb's! This is old news. Buddy Ryan with the Eagles and probably with the bears too. Two words: disposable income. If they didn't make so much they wouldn't treat $1000 like its a tip at TGIF!!

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the NFL will see this as a violation of the Salary Cap as well? Players were being paid for on-field performance "under the table" and that money wasn't included in the cap.

PantherFancier said...

If Goodell is really a Commissioner, it's time to make a statement. Buddy Ryan, as coach of the Eagles, tried this stunt. The Saints need to lose all their draft picks, Williams needs to be banned from the NFL, Payton and his GM need to be suspended for one year beginning today. This type of unsportsanlike garbage needs to stop NOW! If the punishment is no more than what the Patriots got for their cheating, where no players were injured, the league will have no integrity. Be a man, Roger!

Anonymous said...

As bad as Carolina tackling and safety play as been the past few years, i can safely say the Panthers have not been on the bounty system

Neutral Observer said...

Get over it.. it's called tackle football and not touch/flag etc.. if you don't want to get hurt..do ballet. Every team does it all the way down to high school. The Saints just happened to get caught and proving it would be hard. Last time I checked, there are 52 other players on a team. So the notion of taking out one guy causes a team to lose is for losers. Favre singing "pants on the ground" was a premonition of him being on the ground...

Brothaman1964 said...

This in no way tarnishes their superbowl win. You ask yourself how many players were injured on purpose by the saints during that season or any after. Hard hits are a part of the game, and also late hits. Steve smith was not hit hard during that play. Get over it that type of play will continue.

Anonymous said...

A comparative analysis of how many teams in the last three years who made illegal hits should resolve this whole issue. The bottom line is all teams have some form of a bounty system. I think the Saints are known as one of the least dirtiest teams in the league. Just look at the stats of illegal hits per team over last three years. Mr Goodell, please don't sissify this awesome sport! Warner and Favre aren't complaining!! Get over it! Saints got rid of GW already.

Anonymous said...

This completely explains what I was seeing last season while watching the Saints play the
49ers. I sat there in amazement at how hard their defense was hitting the 49ers. Bone crashing hit to say the least. And Yes, heads should roll and if it's found out that Payton knew of it, he should be fired BY THE NFL. But we all know that he will not be touched. Even more reason the hate the Aint's

Anonymous said...

Doesn't this remind anybody else of the Raiders of the 1070's with their crippling head blow hits, especially to Darryl Stingily? The NFL owes it to all those players who were injured by the Saints and couldn't return to the game because of their cheap shots. Big time fines and multiple suspensions are required and should be demanded here. This will send the right message to every player that this kind of crap will not be tolerated. This isn't a sign of weak football; it is a clear message of punishment for illegal activity. Think about it, a pool of money to intentionally hurt another football player and possibly end their ability to earn a living, really.

Anonymous said...

The NFL channel had a tape years back of one of our games and the opposing team which I don't recall which it was was declaring to his coach---"Coach let me take him out look at him, he is just a little guy I can take him out easily coach let me take him take him out" The coach never answered no doubt realizing there are miss around. The player was talking about our past running back Mills.

Plus a player who played back in the late 70's an 80's said they were paid to take players out in a book he wrote. Now you going to tell me that coaches were not aware this is going on or the commish wasn't aware?

When you see teams fighting on the field you best know someone is a dirty player and NO often was when we played them.

The problem with the NFL is they don't care what you do they will take 5 or 10,000 off your 20 million dollars --give you a day or two so what good is that?

We don't want to even get into the New England team who's evidence was supposedly destroyed.

You try to watch a good game of football and out everyone knows who the dirty teams and players are.

Torben said...

so the saints got caugth. dont be naive. every team has this bounty system in one form or the other. the bad thing here is the d-cordinator was in on it. normally this is just a player thing.

football is a hard sport. its not for everyone. but thats the appeal of it too. football is not baseball, basket or soccer. its football, youre surpose to hit'em hard. have you ever heard about smashmouth baseball??

but this nowadays goes against mr Goodells attempt to make nfl into flagfootball so the saints will pay for getting caught, but any team could have gotten caught.

Panthrman said...

Williams did this at two of the four Defensive Coordinator jobs and the only Head Coaching job he's held. Only because the other two (Titans & Jaguars) haven't been investigated or come forward with info yet. "It was a terrible mistake!", are you kidding me? It happened everywhere he coached. He will probably, no...should, be forced into retirement and unable to return to the NFL to make sure "it will never happen again". Sean Payton knew about it too...he should at least be suspended for 4-6 games. Fines and/or suspensions to all players who participated.

Greg said...

Payton will get at least fined for not stepping in, GM will get fined, team will lose multiple draft picks and probably at least 4 game suspensions for the defensive players. I'd imagine Williams to get a hefty fine and possible suspension without pay for half if not the entire year. With Brees being tagged and the eating up so much cap space the Saints are in a crapload of trouble.

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J said...

As a Panther fan, I hope the Saints get the book thrown at them.

But what do I really want? For people to stop calling every scandal "something-gate." Watergate was 40 years ago. It's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

For all the morons who are so anal they keep talking about dogs, what does dogs have to do with paying a person to intentionally hurt another person. You fools that keep talking about dogs are the same ones that grandparents and parents hung human beings for no reason at all and never did any time. So STHU about the dogs. They deserve to be punished and that goes for the whole organization. You can slide so long before you make a slip. What you do in the dark will come to light hypocrites.