Well, it seems safe to say that “bounties” in the NFL are
now officially a thing of the past.
After the penalties that Commissioner Roger Goodell handed
down to the New Orleans Saints today – penalties the likes of which are pretty
much unprecedented in professional football – no player, coach, general
manager, ball boy, or locker room attendant will likely ever again have the
gumption to try to bribe one player to take out another using monetary rewards.
The punishments, as doled out from upon high in the NFL’s
offices in New York City, are as follows:
Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended
from the NFL for one year, effective April 1, 2012. Payton will serve his
suspension without pay (according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Payton was
scheduled to make about $8 million in 2012).
Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams)
defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended from the NFL
indefinitely, effective immediately.
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has been
suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season.
Saints Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt has been
suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2012 regular season.
The Saints, as a team, have been forced to
forfeit their 2012 and 2013 second round draft choices, and have been fined
Saints players are also likely to be
disciplined, but the league continues to review those cases for the time being.
Goodell delivered a flying elbow drop off the top floor of
NFL headquarters that would make any professional wrestler proud. The Saints
organization, at the top of the football world after winning Super Bowl XLIV
just 25 months ago, now finds itself in absolute shambles.
In addition to the Bountygate scandal, quarterback Drew
Brees has expressed extreme displeasure in being slapped with the “Franchise
Player” tag. Faced with the prospect of playing for a team under extreme
sanctions, without his partner-in-crime (perhaps not the best term given the
current circumstances) Payton, Brees could very realistically take this
opportunity to attempt to strong-arm his way right out of The Big Easy.
They now have to find someone to coach the team in 2012.
They’ll have a hard time getting any (more) free agents to
sign in New Orleans for at least this offseason and perhaps several more to
come, with players knowing the kind of microscope they will be under in the
And they lose two high draft picks.
Though the Saints won the NFC South in 2011, the balance of
power in that division seems on the brink of quickly shifting to teams like the
Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. Even Tampa Bay, loading up with free
agent acquisitions lately, could take a step forward as the Saints look ready to
When this scandal first broke, the attitude among many NFL
observers, fans and pundits alike, was that “bounties” exist on every team, and
that the whole thing was being blown a bit out of proportion. However, given
“The Rog’s” Sheriff of Nottingham-type attitude toward discipline – especially
for a story like this that attracted national outrage and has the potential to
do quite a bit of damage to “The Shield” – all were waiting with bated breath
for the self-appointed gavel-wielding dictator to rule.
After having ruled so heavy-handedly, Goodell’s goal may actually come to fruition. It almost doesn’t seem
completely naive to think that bounties really could be a thing of the past in
the NFL. Again, who would subject themselves to this kind of discipline,
knowing the precedent that has just been set?
It simply isn’t worth it.
For any “bounties” to exist from here on out would be
absolute suicide for NFL teams.
Whether or not you agree with Goodell’s approach, the bottom
line is that his punishment of the New Orleans Saints should be an effective
deterrent against bounties moving forward.