The New Orleans Saints have been caught in a bounty scandal.
Well it is when players are offered something, most of the time money, to purposely hurt a player from the opposing team.
The New Orleans Saints were caught offering defensive players bonuses to purposely hurt players on other teams from the 2009 season to the 2011 season, this including the year they won the Super Bowl. The League has been working hard to make the NFL a safer game and bounty programs are just not allowed. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Let me be clear. There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness and safety. Programs of this kind have no place in our game, and we are determined that bounties will no longer be a part of the NFL.”
In 2010 the League suspected the Saints had a bounty program going on but the Saints lied about it and denied everything. A second investigation took place in 2011 but again the Saints denied it. In January 2012 a third investigation took place and this time the League found evidence and finally figured out the truth about the Saint’s bounty program. They discovered that the Saint’s players and defensive coordinator at the time, Gregg Williams who is now with the St. Louis Rams, donated money to a pool that would be given to the player who successfully injured players on other teams, mostly looking for “knock-outs” and “cart-offs”. There were even bounties put out for the injury of certain quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner, and Cam Newton. The League found proof that in 2010 Jonathan Vilma, Saint’s defensive captain said he would give $10,000 to the player who knocked-out Brett Favre in the NFC championship game.
The League knows for a fact that the Saints bounty program was put in place and ran by Gregg Williams. It is also known that Mickey Loomis the Saint’s General Manager, head coach Sean Peyton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt, and defensive captain Jonathan Vilma were all aware of this program.
After finding this information, Roger Goodell took action. On Wednesday March 21, 2012 he punished those in charge by doing the following:
- Fined the Saints $500,000
- Took away the Saints second round draft picks in the 2012-2013 NFL draft
- Suspended Joe Vitt for the first 6 games of the 2012 regular season, and he will not be paid during this time
- Suspended Mickey Loomis for the first 8 games of the 2012 regular season, and he will not be paid during this time
- Suspended Sean Peyton for the 2012 season starting April 1st, and he will not get paid
- Immediately Suspended Gregg Williams from the NFL. At the end of the 2012 season Roger Goodell will review Williams’s status and decided on whether or not to reinstate him.
- Also, all that took part in the Saints bounty program will be required to help create programs that will help inform other players and coaches about the game and the rules and why they are important and must be followed.
Goodell said, “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.” Well he defiantly sent out a message to all the other teams in the NFL. Many feel that the punishments he gave were too harsh. No head coach has ever been suspended for more than one game. Goodell is determined to make the game of Football safer and he made a loud statement on Wednesday when he handed out the punishments for the Saints coaches that were in charge, and he is not done. The players involved will be next on the list.
In all honestly almost every team probably has something like this going on but it was the Saints that got caught. The commissioner has a goal to make the game safer so he had to set an example with this team. I am sure the message was heard by all, but I am not sure if this will completely stop it. I agree that it is just wrong for someone to intentionally try to severely injure another player. That is their life we are talking about, and if a player is hit in a certain way it could paralyze them, cause a concussion, or much more. I know that players are taking that risk by choosing the game as their profession, but to intentionally try to hurt someone in that way is just wrong. I hope coaches and players stop all bounties.
Update: On April 5, 2012 Sean Pamphilon, a documentary filmmaker, released audio of one of Gregg Williams’s speech to the Saints defensive players. To hear a part of this audio play the video below, but please know THIS AUDIO CONTAINS BAD LANGUAGE.
Update: On May 2, 2012 Roger Goodell announced the suspension of four players:
- Jonathan Vilma (linebacker) – one full season,
- Anthony Hargrove (defensive tackle now for the Packers) – eight games
- Will Smith (defensive end) – four games
- Scott Fujita (linebacker now for the Browns) – three games