Roughly three weeks ago, the New Orleans Saints organization was found to be involved in illegal in-game activities.
That same day, I wrote an article regarding the situation. I concluded that piece with the following statement: “The only thing that we know for sure is this: the Saints are in trouble. Big trouble.”
Now, I have a hard time thinking that people took this idea seriously (as I wasn’t the only one saying it). Prior to all of the action that occurred on March 21, we had all heard rumblings of possible suspensions and lost draft picks. What came on this day in March, though, was much more than anyone could have ever imagined.
For all of those who do not know the full extent of the punishment dished out by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas wrote a full blog post on the penalties.
Here is a point-by-point list of the penalties:
- The Saints are fined $500,000. In addition, because the violation involves a competitive rule, the Saints will forfeit their selections in the second round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts.
- Saints coach Sean Payton is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective April 1.
- Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season.
- Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately. Commissioner Goodell will review Williams’ status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms. Commissioner Goodell said he will give close attention to the extent to which Williams cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings.
- Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season.
- The Saints and the individuals disciplined today are expected to participate in efforts led by the league office to develop programs that will instruct players and coaches at all levels of the game on the need for respect for the game and those who participate in it, on principles of fair play, safety and sportsmanship, and to ensure that bounties will not be part of football at any level.
The league also said the involvement of players in the bounty program remain under investigation and Goodell will address possible discipline at a later date.
So now the “Who Dat Nation” is throwing out the question that every member wants answered: were the penalties fair?
It’s time to take a look at this from a non-biased perspective. That’s right. I’m asking you, as the reader, to take off the black and gold-shaded sunglasses, remove the fleur-de-lis apparel, and look at the situation for what it really is.
The entire ordeal involving the New Orleans Saints is no joke. This isn’t some tiny offense that can be shrugged off as a non-issue. This isn’t a “ha ha” moment. This is a scandal, and it should be treated as such.
What this scandal involved was the intentional injuring of opposing players, and the list of those players has grown from the retired Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. Now, names like Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton were also stated to have been targeted by Saints defenders. Oh, and did we forget that there were 18,000 documents and over 50,000 pages of material on this matter?
So what’s the problem? This is something that a great deal of Saints fans seem to be asking. If they’re paid to play defense, then why are they at fault for simply doing their jobs?
It’s time to make something very clear. These defenders are paid to put on the pads and spikes and accomplish one goal: stop the opposing team from scoring, whether that be via a field goal or a TD. It is not, however, their job to intentionally take other players out of the game. Go ahead. Read the job description. You won’t find it.
Another complaint that I’ve been hearing is this: “What about all the other teams? We all know that the Saints weren’t the only ones doing this!”
Once again, let’s add a realistic point of view to this.
I, for one, believe that several other teams (heck, maybe most other teams) do this type of behind-the-scenes “dirty work” from time to time. The thing, though, is that those other teams never got caught.
Let me try to put the situation into a different scenario. Let’s say we have a high school student who is taking a test, and he gets caught cheating. Because he got caught cheating, the teacher decides to punish everyone else in the room, too, because that one student got caught, and every one else may have been doing the same thing. That’s unfair to the other students. The same applies here to the remainder of the NFL.
So what is my opinion of this whole ordeal?
I believe the penalties were a little overboard; then again, I can guarantee that Goodell got his message across.
Goodell essentially took the New Orleans Saints and established them as the “poster child” for the bounty scandal. He’s spreading the word. If you get caught, then there will be severe consequences.
So severe, in fact, that many fans are already calling the entire 2012 Saints campaign into question. Now, how badly this situation will affect the Black and Gold remains to be seen.
What we do know is this: the Saints performed an illegal activity, were discovered and hit heavily with penalties.
Life will go on in New Orleans. It just won’t have the same look.
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