Saints Bounty Scandal Overblown

Let the vilification begin. The Saints are on their way from being seen as, well, saints to scoundrels. The team that boosted the morale of the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina aren’t so angelic after all. The halo hovering over Sean Payton are now devil horns grotesquely protruding from his head.

The severe punishment the Saints will undoubtedly receive is justified. However, the accompanying public slander is not.

Don’t get me wrong, the bounty system is despicable and I’m not talking about those cute little characters from the animated movie. In a game where violence is already front and center, adding a monetary incentive to hurt opposing human beings is downright heartless.

I am all for Roger Goodell’s stance on eliminating head shots from the game of football. The NFL may be a little sissier in this era but for the long-term health and safety of the players who don’t understand enough about the issue to help themselves, the increased sissiness is well worth it.

The New Orleans Saints have to be penalized severely for this bounty scandal. The NFL has to do it to send a message around the league as it has done with head shot artists like James Harrison. If it takes a couple of draft picks a million bucks that is fine by me.

What I won’t stand for though is the defamation of the Saints. Similarly to the UCLA incident earlier this week, the Saints are going to be seen in a light that they don’t deserve. It isn’t right that UCLA basketball players were doing ecstasy at raves or that star players were receiving excessive preferential treatment. The problem with the Sports Illustrated story was that it made out UCLA to be the only team in the country to have those issues.

That shouldn’t happen for the New Orleans Saints either.

The sad fact of the matter is that the bounty program is an old practice in the NFL. Gregg Williams didn’t invent it in 2009. Heck, the Washington Post reported that the Washington Redskins had a bounty program under Gregg Williams as well. The famous bounty bowl games in 1989 where Buddy Ryan had bounties placed on quarterback Tory Aikman and kicker Luis Zendejas are the most famous instances of this practice.

It’s an age-old system that certainly still takes place across the NFL. The Saints just happened to be the team that got caught.

Brett Favre’s comments on the subject speak volumes considering he was one of the biggest targets of the Saints bounty scandal. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered up $10,000 to knock him out of the NFC Championship game in 2009. Favre took some brutal shots that very much bordered on the illegal variety that game. Nevertheless, Favre was not upset, noting that that bounties are simply a part of the game. The ageless wonder stated that “said or unsaid, guys do it anyway.” “I’m not pissed. It’s football.”

Like steroids, because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right but vilifying the Saints alone isn’t warranted. I’m no NFL insider but this is surely a practice that is understood by players around the league as not being uncommon and possibly the norm. Listen to what Brett Favre is saying. He wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Everyone seems to be placing this scandal on a different level than Spygate. The title of John Clayton’s article on ESPN is “Saints bounty story worse than Spygate.” I don’t see it that way. To the best of my knowledge, the filming of opposing team’s walkthroughs is not one of those unsaid things that teams around the league do. I’m thinking Brett Favre would be more than a little bit pissed if he had been told that the Saints had been videotaping his team’s signals.

Who knows, Spygate might have been the reason behind a Super Bowl victory or two for the New England Patriots. Other Super Bowl champion teams aren’t doing that kind of thing. If we are strictly talking about integrity of the game, this bounty scandal can in no way be worse than Spygate.

A tarnished legacy for doing what other teams are doing and have been doing for years isn’t fair. Do we really know that the Minnesota Vikings didn’t have a bounty program as well in 2009? Sure, it’s naive to believe no one other than the New England Patriots have at least attempted to cheat the game using comparable methods but nothing has come out since 2008. The Washington Redskins have already been outed for their bounty program of the past. How much more is out there?

Hopefully Roger Goodell sends a message loud enough so that these bounty programs can finally be put to a halt. Player safety is the number one priority. Give the Saints the chair so to speak.

Just don’t let it ruin the their reputation.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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18 Responses to Saints Bounty Scandal Overblown

  1. Mike Patton says:

    Too late on ruining their reputation. It’s already happened. Not to say this doesn’t happen all the time, but an example is gonna be made out of them and their reputations.

    • Chris Ross says:

      Yeah, you’re probably right on that. I guess, as you read in the article, I just don’t think it’s quite fair. Like the Patriots, the Saints are probably going to have to win one under Sean Payton to at least make the black mark a little smaller on the franchise.

    • Great article Chris. Roger Goodell has to make an example due to his goal of wanting to clean up the league. I’m thinking that Gregg Williams and Sean Payton will be suspended for some games this season and will be fined heavily. The New Orleans Saints will probably be fined, and will lose draft picks.

  2. R&H Sports says:

    Great post. Keep writing!!!

  3. I think they deserve a tarnished reputation. Assuming these allegations are true, this is horrible. Paying teammates money to land someone on a stretcher is inexcusable act.

  4. jamblinman says:

    Interesting points on the Spygate vs. Bounty…Definitely a strong argument. However, I think player safety always takes precedent over the “unwritten laws of the game” or whatever. SImilarly, I think Pete Rose and his betting fetish are much more worthy of the Hall of Fame than someone like Barry Bonds who took steroids. I hope that comparison makes sense. Both the bounty and spygate incidents were terrible, but I assume the Saints (especially w/such a big priority placed on player safety in the NFL under Goodell) will be punished more harshly.

  5. Herbie says:

    Nicely written. I don’t believe the scandal will be overblown. The unfortunate thing for the Saints – or fortunate depending on point of view – is it comes during a time when the league is cracking down hard on player safety.

    Today’s safety-conscious league doesn’t want to hear about behind-the-scenes rewards for another player who purposely inflicts an injury outside the framework of the rules.

  6. I think most fans understand this thing happens in the league, regardless of whether there’s a fleur de lis on their helmet or not. Jennings will probably take the worst of the brunt but since he’s no longer there, no big deal. Payton will also take some heat, as he should.

    After that though, I think the Saints’ rep will get off pretty good here. I mean, hey, it’s not like they’re the Raiders or anything.

  7. thel.m.m says:

    I wrote about this in my blog and I definitely took a different view of this whole situation. I don’t condone what the Saints did in regard to paying for going into a game to intentionally to hurt someone. But’ with that said, how do you motivate your players? Offer them ice cream at the end of the game? Look a coach job is to win. Winning is a combination of skill, preparation, and MOTIVATION to execute. Think about. That moment when you feel like you have to perform, to show your difference in skill level. I know that feeling because when I play any sports, that MOTIVATION is one thing that is on my mind. The crazy part it’s on society’s mind too, specifically EA sports Madden franchise. The ‘truck’ stick? Come on! What I am trying to say is yes it was bad to target specific people and pay for specific people, but if the Saints would have generalized the pool and said who ever knocks someone out, or get a sack, or a fumble gets $1500, $1000, $500 respectively, then it wouldn’t be so bad in my eyes.

  8. Panthers411 says:

    Injuries are part of the game and the league. It is, after all, a physical sport. But paying anyone a bonus for a “kill shot” or for any player sent off on a cart is bad sportsmanship. Anyone intentionally trying to injure a player or encouraging injuries should suffer dire consequences. If commissioner Goodell hands out anything short of a loss of a first-round draft pick, 6-digit fines and 6-8 game suspensions for those responsible, it will send the message that he’s not serious about enforcing not only player safety but the rules.

  9. Justin says:

    I agree that this does probably happen more often then we want to think. The problem is Gregg Williams got too loose with his tongue and said some things that lead to the investigation. Now, like the Patriots, an example will be made.

    I will say one thing about the Favre situation. He did say he didn’t care. However, the following year the Vikings played the Saints for their season opener. Remember it was the year before the CBA was going to expire and the players were doing all that solidarity crap. Well Favre stayed on the sideline during all this. Most people thought it was disinterest but now some Minnesota beat writers feel it may have been directed at the Saints.

  10. Samuel says:

    I didn’t go crazy over this because I knew this goes on with other teams. But the fact that the Saints got caught just makes it a lot worse. It’s one of those dirty secrets that is supposed to stay within the teams. But since it’s not out there, it really just hurts the rebranding image of the NFL. The Saints should be punished but they are being the sacrificial lamb for all other teams that do the same thing.

  11. Very insightful post and in agreement with you that this has been going on for years, but also feel that Goodell DOES need to send a message so that this stops before someone is truly injured seriously. We say as much in the article we posted today. If you have a chance and would like to check it out, here it is:

  12. Sieve says:

    I agree the Saints are going to get a black eye out of this, and the players won’t even get a slap on the wrist.

  13. tophatal says:


    Is it overblown if we have a player that becomes seriously injured from this practice ? Kurt Warner has made the statement that he suffered in a game against the Saints but here’s the little known thing about the incident . He suffered a grade II concussion but he adds that the hit was legitimate . Rams ta And as despicable as it is the Saints probably aren’t the only franchise making this a practice . I mean we have ” Spygate ” as a prime example in the aftermath of that idiocy with McDaniels’ antics with the Broncos while he was the coach there . Yet we had idiots within this forum who at the time were trying to maintain that it wasn’t a widespread practice !

    I know that you’re an avid hockey fan and the impact that Sidney Crosby has on the game but if he were on the receiving end of such a practice . How would you view the incident ?

  14. Bobby Charts says:

    I agree with you. And it is a big deal this head shots, I feel what the NFL has done is perfect, and needed. I don’t take it like some people do, like the NFL is ruining the game, please get a grip!

  15. I find so many people on both sides of this argument. I tend to side with the theory that it is a big boys game and have no problem with the players putting a collection together to reward big hits but, in the same breath you can not put an injury bulls eye on someone’s back.

    This took it to a different level in a fan’s perspective. When your hard hitting linebacker says I’ll give somebody this much to eliminate the opposing QB from the game the man should be suspended. The game is not about injuring other players it is about scoring touchdowns and stopping the other team from scoring touchdowns by playing the game.

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