There were many headlines that were going through my head when I was thinking about what to write about this week. The conference championships were rounding out, Rory McIlroy outlasts Tiger Woods to become the world’s new No. 1 golfer, NFL teams were striking deals with big-time players and placing franchise tags on others, but there was one that caught my attention. This past week the New Orleans Saints were accused of running a bounty program from 2009-2011. Former Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, ran a program that paid his players an extra incentive for knocking other players out of the game via injuring them.
I have heard over the past couple of days numerous NFL analysts say that they don’t see a problem with the program that Williams was running. They say that as a defensive player you should be playing to knock and do not need any incentive to do that. I strongly disagree with this.
Whenever you are putting another human beings life in danger to better your own, it is never okay. To me that is exactly what these Saints players were doing. It is hard to believe that putting $10,000 on the table for the first one to knock out the opposing quarterback is not motivation to do it. There were some prime examples looking back on the Saints 2010 Super Bowl run.
The victim that comes to mind when I think back to that year was Brett Favre. During that NFC Championship game the Saints defense recorded some blatantly illegal hits on Favre. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, because in order to beat that Minnesota Vikings team, you needed to rattle Favre. Not anymore. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma said that he would give $10,000 to anyone who knocked out Favre. The Saints did not care about the health of Favre or even getting penalized for what they did. They had one thing on their mind, and that was the money.
The NFL is a league that tries to set an example for everyone who watches the game and for the youth who want to grow up and be a part of it. This message ruins the integrity of the game and sends the wrong impression to everyone. A kid who is involved in a youth football program might read this story and think it is reasonable to knock out another kid.
It has been known that 22-27 defensive players took part in the program. It also came out that the likes of Sean Payton and Drew Brees knew but refused to put a stop to it.
This is not the first accusation for Williams on performing a bounty program. In 2004-2007, when Williams was the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, he ran a similar type of program.
The question is what the punishment will be. The easiest way to measure a scandal to this extreme is to take a look back at the most recent scandal. In 2007, the New England Patriots were accused of using illegal video to get an advantage over their opponents, known as Spygate. During Spygate, the Patriots were forced to forfeit future first-round picks, as well as paying a combined $750,000. Will this punishment be worse? Yes. The difference between the bounty program and Spygate is that players’ livelihoods were put in danger. Along with the forfeiture of draft picks and fines, I believe there will be strict suspensions and firings. Williams, who is now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, should be banned from football. Not only was he making a bad example out of his players, he was influencing them to injure others. Some might say you can go as far as taking away their Super Bowl. I don’t think that would be the right route to go. Even with what their defense was a part of, you can’t take away from the sensational season Brees and the Saints offense had.
New Orleans went from being ”America’s City” because of what Hurricane Katrina did to that town, to being the league villains. What do you think of them?
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