On the Friday with NFL news consumed by the application of Franchise Tags by teams to players, a bombshell story has hit the news, one involving the New Orleans Saints in an extremely negative fashion.
The NFL announced today that the New Orleans Saints engaged in a bounty program under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that involved more than 20 defensive players. The fact that the word “bounty” is something that will negatively affect the Saints franchise for some time to come.
It has been an initiative of Commissioner Roger Goodell from the moment he took office to maintain and promote the integrity and public confidence in the NFL. His signature Personal Conduct Policy has been vigilant in disciplining off-field behavior that negatively affects the image of the player, the team and league. And on the field Goodell and his staff have lorded over increased fines and suspensions for violent hits that affect the image of the game.
Now Goodell faces a situation that strikes at the heart of the integrity of the league. Players “gambling” with the health and safety of opposing players is something that belies the NFL shield and brand.
I remember, as a front office member of the Packers, how each year we would receive a memo from the NFL Management Council warning of stiff penalties for allowing “bounties” to exist within our players and coaching staff. I specifically remember one time where we were questioned about a comment our defensive players had made to the media about rewarding our defensive linemen with DVDs from Best Buy were we to hold Adrian Peterson under 100 yards in one game.
The NFL caught wind of those comments and inquired about them. When they used the word “bounty” in our call, it shocked me. We were talking about some DVDs from Best Buy! But, with the comments specifically concerning Peterson, who was coming off a record-breaking performance the week before, the league felt a need to ask us some questions. There was no punishment given, but it caused some a discussion to the entire team, especially the players involved in the incident.
The league will come down hard on the Saints. The timing of this announcement sets up for the loss of draft picks in the Draft that is six weeks away. And more.
The Saints offseason just got a lot worse. And Drew Brees, Carl Nicks and Marques Colston just got a lot more leverage, as the Saints need some good public relations news…soon.
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