The world of sports is a funny thing. One minute – an athlete, coach or franchise can be on top of the world and the next minute, fall flat on their face. In 2009 the New Orleans Saints stood atop the football universe as Super Bowl Champs. Every player and coach on that team became hero’s to a city that was literally left in ruin due to the devastation left in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. Drew Brees became the poster boy of humanitarian values, and the black and gold of the Saints now represented the colors of a team that would be an NFL fan favorite – helping to erase nearly 40 years of professional sports obscurity.
The Saints have been in news recently in a less flattering light. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with the St. Louis Rams) is the focus of an NFL investigation which brings to light, that he implied a “bounty” system for defensive players who he coached. “Bounty-Systems” are nothing new in the NFL, a matter of fact – it is known that in 1985 the Chicago Bears put a bounty on Joe Montana, in which players around the league knew that if they could get a shot to either injure or knock out Joe Montana, they would get paid a certain amount for doing so. Is it something to pound your chest and be proud of? Absolutely not. But the NFL was definitely more barbaric in those days, unlike today’s NFL which is under scrutiny as of now for concussions and have altered rules and elevated penalty amounts for what the league considers to be “violent” hits.
Gregg Williams is said to have told players they would get bonuses for hurting or “sending a message” to certain players, that were on his hit list. The two most prominent names being quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. I personally remember watching the Saints play against Favre and couldn’t get over the fact that they looked so focused on punishing Favre over and over again. And now with the facts that have come about, I can see why. The worst part about this story is that the NFL seemed to have gotten wind of what kind of “pay for blood” system Williams was running and told New Orleans Saints management that they would be under a microscope if more evidence came about. Saints management denied it and even went as far as saying they’d conduct their own investigation and punish any guilty party if a “bounty” system was found under Gregg Williams defense.
Now with the walls falling in on New Orleans, commissioner Roger Goodell can lay his hammer down harsh. Firstly when thinking of how to punish the organization, you have to think big. You can’t slap them on the wrist because they were America’s favorite sweet-hearts – you have to cut their hands off for the same reason. Sure the investigation itself trails Gregg Williams to his days in Washington, Buffalo and Tennessee as well — but it’s with New Orleans Roger Goodell can make his point.
I say, treat it like you would a college. Strip them of a few draft picks, suspend Gregg Williams for a season or two from the NFL and suspend head coach Sean Payton for a few games. Yes, folks – Sean Payton. Sean Payton is said to be such a smart guy, it’d be hard to believe he didn’t know that his defense coordinator had implemented a “bounty system.” Truth is, even if he honestly didn’t know – he should still be suspended for being blind to it.
New Orleans already had a lot on their plate this off season and this was really the last thing they needed. Almost as important as some type of sanctions coming down on the organization is the fact that they just placed the franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees. CBSSPORTS.com reporter Larry Holder reported: “Brees is ‘livid’ about being … tagged and not receiving a long-term contract.” Brees and the Saints were about $5 million a year a-part in details in the contract – now it looks like Brees might find it in his best interest to hold-out. I’m on the fence with this contract debate. For the Saints it’s easy to see that signing a long term deal with a 33 year old quarterback is risky and for Drew Brees, he just broke a twenty five year old NFL record and was considering by some to be the best QB in the league last year. On top of that, Drew Brees and Sean Payton run a very intricate offense with a bunch of funny nick names, last second audibles, fake reads and formations – that you can’t just teach another QB in the off-season to master. And that right there is Brees’ biggest bargaining chip. Brees takes care of himself and is an intelligent guy, he can stick around at a top level for at least another 3 years – Saints should just give him the most lucrative 3 year deal of all time.
It’s easy to say that when it’s not your money.