The NFL today issued its punishment for the bounty system the New Orleans Saints had in place, which encouraged and payed players to target opposing players and attempt to knock them out of the game. The punishments include: the indefinite suspension of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the year long suspension of head coach Sean Payton, eight game suspension for GM Mickey Loomis, six game suspension for assistant head coach Joe Vitt, forfeiture of second round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, and a fine of $500,000. While these punishments are extensive and have long term ramifications for the Saints organization, IT’S. NOT. ENOUGH.
When comparing “bountygate” with the “spygate” scandal involving the Patriots filming opposing team’s practices, the two aren’t even close to being equal in severity. Yes, the Patriots were wrong to do that and they accepted the blame and punishment in stride. However, “spygate” never had the potential to cost anyone their health and career in football. People called the Patriots’ super bowl wins into question because of this, but after getting caught early in the 2007 season, the Pats proceeded to go 18-0, nearly winning the super bowl for a fourth time. Clearly, the taping of practices didn’t spur their success. In addition, several other teams did the same thing the Patriots did, they were just the ones to get caught.
That being said, the Saints’ “bountygate” had the potential to cost people their entire career in the NFL. Imagine the Patriots played the Saints when this system was in place and they injured Tom Brady so badly that he could no longer throw. The entire region of New England, along with others would be calling for the head of Sean Payton on a platter! While there aren’t many clear examples of how this bounty system affected the careers of those who had the misfortune to be targeted by the Saints, there is one glaring one that should result in an EXTREME penalty. I’m talking, of course, about the great Brett Favre.
Think back to the NFC Championship game of 2010. Sports Illustrated reported that Saints linebacker Jon Vilma offered a $10,000 reward for any teammate who could take Farve out of the game. Think back to how many brutal, borderline hits Favre took, including a vicious high-low shot in the third quarter by defensive linemen Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele that caused a serious ankle injury. Don’t you think that impeded Farve’s play? On his game-changing interception that sent the game to OT, where they ultimately lost, all Favre had to do was run with the ball to gain a few yards. Instead, he scrambled on his injured ankle, and chose to throw the ball rather than run. One could argue that if his ankle wasn’t injured, he wouldn’t have done that, and the Vike’s would have likely won and gone to the super bowl. Favre was never the same again after that game.
One could easily argue that the only reason the Saints were able to get to the super bowl was through dirty play. It’s a disgrace to the game and everything the NFL stands for. The Saints should have been forced to forfeit their Super Bowl Trophy. Sean Payton should have been fired, and Gregg Williams should be banned from the NFL. Some people say the Patriots’ super bowl victories should have an * next to it because of “spygate;” I can think of way more reasons for the Saints’ super bowl victory to have that scar.