There’s been quite a bit of speculation this week about the penalties that the New Orleans Saints coaching staff and players should expect to receive over the roles they played in ‘Bountygate’. John Clayton of ESPN stated he would expect not only fines, but game suspensions for some of the key figures. This includes Head Coach Sean Payton.
Lets me just say this: We have NO idea what’s coming. Everyone is basing their opinions off Spygate. Why? There is nothing comparable about the two incidents. (Other than the obligatory “gate” term, which we can’t seem to get away from. Can’t we move on people? What about “Bountyfest” or “Bountyslam”)
The Patriots suffered a total of $750,000 in fines and the lost of a first round draft pick. This was for what has been described as a “misinterpretation of the rules”. The New Orleans Saints (maybe it’s time for a name change?) have been caught placing monetary incentive to inflict intentional physical injury. This is the key statement so let me say it again: INTENTIONAL PHYSICAL INJURY. These aren’t guys going out to blow someone up across the middle, that’s part of the game. Players accept that. Fans understand that. To target individuals in such a predatory manor is unscrupulous. To put it another way, it’s dirty. There, I said it.
Players put themselves on the line every week, hell, every PLAY. Is it too much for them to ask that while they’re doing it, they shouldn’t have to worry about an incentivized cheap shot? Let’s grow up a little here guys. You’re all paid professionals. This isn’t street ball. The rest of us don’t go to work worried that our co-workers are going to trip us going down the stairs. Everyone has a right to feel safe where they work. Whether that be delivering the mail, or returning a punt.
I don’t just put this on the players. If you’re an NFL Head Coach, it is your JOB to know all the goings on of your team. Whether or not you task out certain responsibilities, it all comes back to you in the end. This brings into question how much control this Head Coach really has over his players. To allow (or God forbid encourage) such behavior has to be seen by the Saints ownership as a SERIOUS lapse in judgment and I would imagine they are taking a hard look at their organization moving forward.
The NFL has made huge strides over the past decade to try and eliminate unnecessary danger from the game. With this move, it has become a better selling product. The Commissioner is well aware of his leagues public image and, I believe, will take GREAT measures to ensure there is no back slide. He’s seen what can happen to more complacent leagues and has no intention of having this juggernaut that is the NFL lose even a half knot of momentum.
We have no idea what is coming, but it will be severe. It will not be pleasant. The Saints will NOT enjoy this.