That's the word that keeps getting thrown around by NFL writers when they talk about the direction this story is headed, and they're not just talking about the Saints fanbase.
That's the big question on everybody's mind right now.
ESPN has said that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell already has pretty much all of the evidence he needs. Before passing judgment, he plans to meet with the owners of other NFL teams, as well as the Saints owner and front office people. The timing of it all could be interesting given that free agency starts in just under two weeks.
I'll grant that a slap on the wrist is possible, but given that the league spent three years on this investigation, looking at the volume of evidence the league has, and understanding that "player safety" has been a big buzzword of Goodell's, I have a hard time imaging the punishment will be an easy one. Adam Schefter speculates that Roger Goodell has no choice but to levy "the stiffest penalty ever" against an NFL team.
And let's be clear: This is worse than Spygate. Lose a game and the only thing bruised is your ego. Injuries have a little more serious - and sometimes lasting, career and life altering - effect.
THE LEAGUE, OR THE TEAM?
Who lays the hammer down hardest?
Goodell has thrown around words like "conduct detrimental' when discussing the actions of Gregg Williams and Sean Payton. Those are words no one wants to hear when their job is on the line.
Could the league fire a coach? As I understand it, no. They do, however, have the power to suspend coaches and players. Should the league go that route, the team might decide that having a coach gone for part (or all) of a season is just too big an obstacle and say "we may as well move on".
What the league decided to do as punishment could definitely have a major impact on what the team decides to do, and vice versa, which leads to the next question...
WHO STAYS? WHO GOES?
The Saints have some major image reconstruction to do at this point. If I'm Tom Benson right now, I at least have to consider the possibility that the best thing for the team might be to clean house with - at the very least - the defensive staff and GM Mickey Loomis. Mike Ornstein, agent for coach Payton, could be in big trouble too as he is said to have paid for a few bounties himself. Ornstein is already scandal-bitten per his association with (ironically) former Saint Reggie Bush in college.
And yes, Sean Payton himself as well. It's established that he knew, so you can't leave him untouched. And if you go that route, the question becomes is there much point keeping the offensive staff in place.
Now you're probably saying "Clean out an entire staff...NOW? At this time of year?" Sounds ridiculous, right? Sure does, but here's why it might not be.
When Goodell comes calling on Tom Benson to tell him how he's decided to punish the team, Benson could say "Hey look, we got rid of all those bad apples, so why not ease up on us?" And he'd have a point. Plus if the league says they're going to suspend a bunch of them anyway, why not cut your losses?
Yeah, having to replace a whole staff just prior to free agency and less than two months from draft day would be devastating. On the flipside, you keep all of those guys in place with no consequence, and why should Goodell spare the rod?
Truth be told, they may be screwed either way.
SO LET'S SAY THEY CLEAN HOUSE...
Who do you get to replace them?
Do we have to restart "The Chud Watch" again?
Hate to say it but if Benson were to go nuclear on the staff, maybe so
The good part of that is that if I were a young, up-and-coming coach in the league, I would not want my name in any way associated with the train wreck that the Saints of the next few years could very well be. That, plus starting with an unproven guy could be a hard sell for season ticket holders.
The more likely option might be to try and grab a retread that's well known and available. Maybe a Brian Billick, a Jon Gruden or a Bill Cowher. For that matter, if you wanted to say "we're going back to our roots" you could make a case for talking Jim Mora out of retirement with the idea that he's the right guy to clean up the "diddly poo" that happened under Payton.
My own take? Payton and crew probably have a better than 50% chance of staying just because the logistics of replacing all of them (especially at a time of year when anyone worth having is probably already locked up) would be too much. Mickey Loomis, though, is probably gone. And if they did chop Payton too, they could always elevate new guy Steve Spagnuolo.
It could easily come down to just how much blame the Saints can throw on Gregg Williams.
WHAT ABOUT THE PLAYERS?
First off, this suggestion to all current Saints, former Saints, and anyone else trying to excuse or minimize this story or play the "everybody does it" card, this piece of advice:
Shut the (expletive of your choice) up.
There's massive evidence, massive, including an admission of guilt by your former DC. So your denials (Darren Sharper) sound not just hollow, but stupid. Your attempts to deflect or minimize (Jonathan Vilma) just make you look like an idiot. And your attempts to say it's no big deal 'cause "everybody does it" (Chris Harris) are likely to earn you a letter from the commissioner using a whole bunch of legal jargon to essentially tell you what I just told you in four words.
If you're a current free agent from the Saints, my advice to you would be get out of town. That includes you, Drew. Tedy Bruschi called you out pretty well on Sportscenter, and he was right. Best thing you can do is get yourself as far away from this mess as you can, though in truth, you'll never escape it completely.
WORDS THAT START WITH 'S'
Here are some pertinent to this situation...
Systematic - That's a big one, and an important one. See, this isn't just a case of some coach saying "hey, go out and bust Roddy White's ass on this play". This was an organized system, administered by DC Gregg Williams. The league knows the difference, and it matters.
Stigma - This is something your team, coaches, players are all going to have to deal with for a while. There'll be jokes, questions, and general dishonor. And the worst of it may well come from what Tedy Bruschi called "the fraternity" of the NFL. Let's say you do go elsewhere to escape. You might just wind up teamed with a player who looks at you and asks "you were ready to take away my ability to feed my family for a thousand bucks?" And guess what...It's a valid question.
Schultz - Specifically, Sergeant Schultz of Stalag 13, whose image was called up in the other thread. If you're an offensive free agent looking to head elsewhere, I'd suggest you familiarize yourself with his best known quote. You'll probably want to repeat it often whenever discussion of this story comes up.
teve mith - You may be wondering why the first letters are missing from his name. The reason is that, like many of us, Number 89 spent today laughing his S off.
(hoping no such thing happened to any of the linemen; if so, they'd have twenty to thirty pounds to put back on between now and camp)
AND THE NUMBER 50000....
That's an important figure for two reasons. The pot of bounty money was at one time said to be in the range of 50,000 bucks. More to the point though, Adam Schefter says the league has 50,000 pages of evidence in the form of 18,000 documents.
I don't know that I've read 50,000 pages of anything over the past five years or so (and I'm counting my own gameday posts in that total).
Wouldn't surprise me if ESPN, NBC, Pro Football Weekly and some other football news groups hired some temps just to read through all that (assuming the NFL releases it, which I'm guessing they will) and point out the highlights. Heck, even with a sizeable group, that'd take some time. Bad news for the Saints on this is it means that new revelations could potentially keep coming out for a long, loooong time.
Some things that probably won't happen, but that I admit would make me laugh with devilish glee if they did.
- Drew Brees bolts New Orleans, stating that the team's offer was too low, then takes less money to play somewhere else
- The image of Roman Harper's idiotic public swipe at Smitty in the end zone makes him a poster boy for this whole story and a symbol of everything that's wrong in the game.
- IRS agents get involved in the investigation because of the "off the books" money involved in the bounty pool.
- The bagheads return in the Superdome, especially if some enterprising soul gets the idea to attach the logo from a pack of Bounty paper towels to his.
- The league's penalty against the Saints is so severe as to be breathtaking, so much so that it elicits sympathy even from the Patriots and their fans.
That last one might sound homeriffic, but I can say quite objectively that it isn't. It's no exaggeration to say this whole episode is just plain sickening to me. It's one thing to play the game hard. That's how it ought to be played.
But deliberately trying to injure people? Guys who pull that kind of crap don't deserve to be in the league. They don't even belong in civilized company.
I'm not enough of an optimist to believe that the guys involved in this will get the kind of punishment they truly deserve. Guess we'll see.
And just because I think it's appropriate, I'll end this little novel with this image...
ourtime.jpg 14.79K 0 downloads
Yeah, I'd say it is.
Edited by Mr Scot, 03 March 2012 - 04:21 AM.