Saints took common practice of bounties to new, dangerous level by Mike Freeman
What makes the most recent case involving the Saints so unusual, players say, was the highly sophisticated system was organized by Gregg Williams, the defensive coach who has been linked to bounty systems in New Orleans, Washington and Buffalo, the latter two according to several published reports. Players interviewed said they have never heard or seen anything remotely close to what Williams and Saints are said to have done by NFL investigators.
This is the crux of this story and why the NFL is reacting so strongly. While bounties have long existed -- going back decades, most infamously associated with Buddy Ryan and the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980s -- what the Saints did was institutionalize them.
One league official familiar with the NFL investigation put it this way: The Saints took a ragtag concept and turned it into a car assembly line. They made it efficient and vicious, with bounty tentacles reaching the head coach and general manager.
"We became extremely concerned that what the Saints were doing," said the official, who is familiar with the NFL's investigation, "would lead to a player or series of players being badly hurt or worse."
Saints, team officials involved in bounty program should pay dearly by Clark Judge
When the NFL announced Friday that it had discovered the New Orleans Saints were guilty of maintaining a "bounty program" for three seasons, it said it could fine or suspend those involved. It also said it could dock the Saints draft picks.
Well, here's a suggestion: Do all three.
This isn't the New England Patriots and Spygate. This is far more serious, with a club rewarding its players for injuring others -- something that's in direct conflict with the NFL's drive for player safety.
So make the Saints pay. No, make them suffer as they made opponents suffer.
Gregg Williams, then the defensive coordinator, ran the program. I would suspend him, and I would fine him. Severely. Coach Sean Payton apparently knew about it and did nothing. The same goes for GM Mickey Loomis. I would fine them and suspend them, too.
Then start subtracting draft picks.
Saints' vile bounties lay big hit on players' cries about Goodell, safety also by Freeman
I'm also told that the Saints' bounty system was common knowledge around the league. How this investigation was kept a secret is a modern miracle. But I do know this: Everyone involved will likely face a stern suspension. No question about that.
This should lead to the firing of Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis, both of whom were identified in Goodell's statement as knowing about the bounty system but turning a blind eye. There are many reasons not to like Payton; this is just another.
"Although head coach Sean Payton was not a direct participant in the funding or administration of the program," the NFL's statement read, "he was aware of the allegations, did not make any detailed inquiry or otherwise seek to learn the facts, and failed to stop the bounty program. He never instructed his assistant coaches or players that a bounty program was improper and could not continue."
Player arrogance. Extreme arrogance from the coach and general manager. How Payton does not get fired is stunning but he won't because he's Teflon in New Orleans.
Most disappointing of all is the player participation. Nowhere in the NFL's report does it say anything about a mass player revolt against the bounty system. Why didn't Saints players tell then defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who administered the program, according to the NFL, to go kick rocks? Why didn't any player put a stop to this?
"Players were willing and enthusiastic participants in the program, contributing regularly and at times pledging large amounts," the statement reads. "Between 22 and 27 defensive players contributed funds to the pool over the course of three NFL seasons. In some cases, the amounts pledged were both significant and directed against a specific opposing player."
Jail, not NFL future, should be No. 1 on Williams' list of worries by Gregg Doyel
Gregg Williams never coaches again in the NFL. That has to be the first consequence of the nauseating bounty system he oversaw in New Orleans -- and apparently with the Bills and Redskins too -- but not the last. Nor should that be the greatest concern today of Williams or his supporters, assuming he has any.
After being barred for life from the NFL -- I mean, don't even let him into the stadium as a fan -- Williams should spend the next several years worrying about criminal charges. Jail? Sure. Until the statute of limitations expires, Williams should spend the next several years worrying about jail.
Because what he did was more than unacceptable, worse than unethical.
What he did was criminal.
Those were crimes his players committed at his behest, and there's no room here for debate. Not according to a retired judge of nearly 15 years who was a criminal defense attorney for more than a decade before that, and a law professor specializing in criminal law for a decade before that.
"No might be about it," the retired judge told me Sunday, when I called him to ask if Gregg Williams' bounty system "might be" criminal. "There's no question, this was criminal. If a player was hurt, and he was hurt by players playing outside the rules -- with intent to injure, and 'intent' is the key word here -- that makes it a battery. No one in the NFL consents to being hit in such a way that is intended to injure them. This was criminal."
Sean Payton book sheds light on bounty scandal (Freeman again)
Sean Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints and now in the middle of one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, wrote a book several years ago called "Home Team." Nothing special about it. Not all that good. It details Payton's rise in the NFL and how the Saints won the Super Bowl. Now, in light of this scandal, the book has become extremely important.
Mainly because it does three things. One, it shows just how extensive a control freak Payton is. So any type of defense that he didn't know simply won't fly. Payton is one of the most detail-oriented coaches in the sport. Second, several passages of the book demonstrate Payton doesn't really give a damn about NFL rules. Now, that's not unusual for a head coach but again, with the bounty investigation, that notion takes on an entirely new meaning.
Third, and most important, it goes into extensive detail about Payton's relationship with one of the central and most shadowy figures from this scandal and that's felon Mike Ornstein who is a close friend of Payton's and, according to NFL documents, himself contributed cash to the bounty pool.
Bounty? Saints could pay dearly in draft by Rob Rang
With Goodell stumping for player safety, and the Saints coaches and players flying in the face of that platform with their actions and essentially taunting the harsh rules enforcement for illegal hits, hell to pay will most definitely mean the subtraction of assets.
If Goodell really wanted to stir the nest, he'd rescind the Saints ability to use the franchise tag for two seasons (bye, bye, Brees?).
More likely, he'll take away the team's draft picks -- second round, third round and maybe more -- and leave Loomis and Payton to figure out how to fill the roster holes left by players departing in free agency without meaningful draft picks or the scratch to be major players in veteran acquisition.
Freeman's articles on this make for some great reading. And Doyel rips Gregg Williams to shreds in his.
Judge's article is good too, but I disagree strongly with a major premise of his: that being that none of the players should be punished because they were just following orders (the "good Nazi" argument). Freeman points out in the third article linked above that the players easily could have said something about it but did nothing.
One quote from the first article listed will be of particular interest to Panther fans though:
No great shock seeing the Saints are a division rival, but worth noting that the context doesn't definitively state it was the Saints who put a bounty on Newton. And worth noting that the people who supplied this info were players from other teams.
Several players said almost every key offensive player over the past several years has been targeted by bounties by many NFL teams including Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Cam Newton, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Rice, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and The Golden Calf of Bristol.
So maybe the Saints (and it's reasonable to assume so)...
...but maybe not :sosp: