An NFL investigation dating back to the 2009 season culminated on Friday with findings that the New Orleans Saints operated a bounty program based off of players knocking others out of the game.
The league’s discovery indicated 22 to 27 Saints defensive players were involved in a program that was fronted by former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
When New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV at the end of the 2009 season, their title run came at the expense of two apparent targets – Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.
During the 2009 NFC Divisional playoffs, Warner was knocked out of the game – and essentially into retirement – on a hit by Saints defensive lineman Bobby McCray that rendered the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP unable to finish the contest.
That playoff loss to the Saints proved to be the final NFL game of Warner’s career.
One week later in the NFC title game, the Saints nearly beat Favre into retirement on hits that eventually led the quarterback to have off-season ankle surgery. While Favre played in 2010, he was never the same after taking that savage beating from New Orleans.
Furthermore, an SI.com report states that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any player that could put Favre out of the conference title game.
Then, in the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIV, Williams alerted the media that the New Orleans defense would have “remember me” hits in store for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
According to reports, the bounty for injuring another played reached at least $50,000.
The league investigation details involvement at some level by Williams, Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, and Michael Ornstein, a close friend of Payton and former agent for ex-Saints running back Reggie Bush.
After such a harrowing discovery during a time when player safety is one of the biggest league-wide issues, it’s imperative that the league actively swiftly and properly.
Is this the first time bounties have been instituted? Obviously, if you’re a longtime NFL fan, these type of situations have happened in the past.
Just ask Williams, who ran a similar program in Washington from 2004 to 2007 when he was the defensive coordinator.
The league is going to come down hard on the Saints. When a team is promoting a culture of injuring players while the NFL is attempting protect them, the penalty is going to be gruesome…and rightfully so.
There is no place in the game for what New Orleans organized.
The biggest question remaining from my perspective is if a certain do-gooder quarterback knew about the misdeeds happening on his own team.
Categories: New Orleans Saints