Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Mar 2012

NFL: Saints Defense Had Bounty Fund

The NFL announced the findings that a "bounty program" existed between the Saints and around 27 defensive players during the 2009-2011 seasons. Defensive players would get paid for knocking other players off the field via injury, and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis did not stop the program when directed to do so by owner Tom Benson.

Adam Schefter reports this is likely to cost the Saints multiple draft picks, more than SpyGate cost the Patriots.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 02 Mar 2012

214 comments, Last at 09 Mar 2012, 8:58pm by Kyle S


by Guido Merkens :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:16pm

They should have made one of the bounties "tackle Vernon Davis."

by morganja :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:31pm

Still the funniest comment on the thread.

by rfh1001 :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 6:04am


by Subrata Sircar :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:34am

If true, that should cost the Saints a lot more than Spygate. Spying on the other team seems a lot [edit: better] than paying players to injure other players.

There is a line between "the QB must go down and he must go down hard" and "I'll give you $1K if you break that guy's leg", and I don't think it's particularly fine.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:32pm

Yeah. This definitely makes what happened in teh 2009 NFC Title Game seem a little different. Those guys went after Favre so hard that I remember my Mom, who barely watches football, was getting upset that the Saints guys were trying to hurt him. Guess she was right.

I think it may cost them multiple picks, but I'll be surprised if a 1st round pick is docked, like Spygate did.

by nuk :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:37pm

As much as I despise the Patriots and the cheating, I think this is worse.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:42pm

I think it is worse in terms of ethically and morally. I think it isn't in terms of possibly showing that the league is not truly competitive (cheating) which has anti-trust implications.

That said, I think I love Eisen's tweet, that this scandal is a hanging curve and Goodell's got the bat-speed. He might try to make a show of this.

I wouldn't even put him suspending Gregg Williams out of reach if it truly was his idea.

Of course, the Saints don't have a 1st round pick in 2012 (the Mark Ingram pick from last year), so maybe Goodell takes away picks from 2013 (if he wants a 1st)?

by djanyreason :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:49pm

I would go beyond Gregg Williams - Sean Peyton ought to be suspended on this.

by Craig in NS (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:49pm

Assuming that injuring a player was a specific bounty (which is separate from 'players were paid bounties for hard hits, including hits hat injured players')... ban everyone at the organizational level that allowed it to continue after they found out about it.

by sabw8217 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:11pm

From the article:

"In some cases, the amounts pledged were both significant and directed against a specific opposing player, according to the league's investigation."

This really seems much, much worse than Spygate IMO. I mean, it's one thing to try and gain a competitive advantage through breaking the rules. It's a whole other for some players to agree that they will give $5000 to the guy who takes out Favre. And it's a whole other thing again for coaches to be paying the money.

If it is widespread across the league, they really should crack down on this hard, if I wanted to watch guys try and hurt each other I would watch MMA.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:14pm

I think it is worse morally and ethically. I think Spygate was worse competitively, especially from an external view of the league. Spygate could give off the impression that a team is actively cheating to gain an systematic advantage. This is a team actively cheating by being d**ks trying to hurt humans.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:28pm

I mean, it's one thing to try and gain a competitive advantage through breaking the rules. It's a whole other to try and gain a competitive advantage through breaking the rules.

by sabw8217 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:29pm

I guess I think that it is crossing a line to intentionally hurt other players to gain that competitive advantage.

by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:32am

I fail to see the competitive advantage, football players are already paid much more money to play hard, including legal hits that harm people. And it's legal to legally hit someone with the intent to hurt them and take them out of the game. So, everyone is shocked and appalled when the men who try to hurt each other for millions of dollars get thousands of dollars for succeeding? Paying a relatively small amount of money for something that's otherwise legal suddenly makes it disgusting and reprehensible? It's bad, but I think people are taking this a bit far.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:05am

I am unaware that the hit that knocked a player out had to be legal, in order for the bounty to be paid. Even if that was the case, any financial incentive for injuring a player is incentive to push the boundaries, and try to injure, while avoiding a flag. Lastly, there are reports that an outside entity, Payton's agent, put up some of the money. If THAT is true, this is the worst case of corruption in the NFL since Hornung and Karras were caught betting on games. To open up the door for outside parties to pay compensation for directly measured performance, covertly, undermines the CBA, the salary cap, and the league itself, even before we examine the issue of being paid to injure players. Agents today, bookmakers tomorrow. Any management personnel aware of such a practice is deserving of permanent banishment from the league, and that is not the least bit hyperbolic.

by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:45am

And an illegal hit draws a fine and/or a penalty. People pay players all the time with the hope that they will perform well (advertisers, fans who buy jerseys, etc.) and because of the lack of specificity it doesn't break the rules. It's just like real life, you can't give a politician a donation and say, "here, I like what you did" because that's a gratuity and causes corruption, but you can say, "here, I like what you do" and that's perfectly legal. The line is blurry and the difference between the two is slim.

It undermines the CBA and salary cap no more than a myriad of other things. Again, endorsements, speaking and appearance fees, receiving freebies and handouts, tax rates, and merchandising all differ among teams and players based on their market and performance and nobody rails against those things (they have a much larger economic impact on players than tens of thousands of dollars)

Paying money for players to play well isn't a crime, it's the point of the game. Your hyperbolic concerns would be founded if someone had paid for players not to be injured, because cheating to lose is what undermines the system.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:05pm

I never said it was a crime, which has to do with government. An agent adding compensation for players is a violation of the salary cap, all chatter to the contrary, and the lack of transparency makes it even worse. If an agent can do that, then a bookmaker can do it, and no, the fact that such people were only paying for things that would help a team win makes no difference, anymore than it would be different for an owner to be slipping extra money under the table to players. Believe it or not, violating the terms of the CBA, especially after being specifically instructed to cease doing so, is an extremely big deal.

(edit) Hmmm, now that I think about it, I've seen reports that some players received compensation in the thousands. That is a taxable event. If it is a taxable event that is not reported by the player, that's a potential legal problem, and if an outside entity like an agent misrepresented such compensation as some other type of business expense on his firm's or his personal tax return, not generating a 1099, that is a potential legal problem.

Having outside parties giving compensation to players, in a nontransparent fashion, with knowledge by a team's management, is a very big deal.

by ebongreen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:51pm

I would hope to God that Gregg Williams is suspended. After all, he is alleged to have _administered the fund_, and if anyone should have known the rules it was him. Personally, I'm hoping for a multi-year ban on him. Like five.

Really large fines for Payton and the GM for not stopping it would also be appropriate. Did Benson do anything wrong, other than follow-through?

by duh :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:35pm

I will be stunned if Gregg Williams isn't suspended for a significant amount of time.

Mickey Loomis is also in deep water, the owner told him to stop it and he didn't? My guess is he'll end up 'resigning.'

by Xao :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:50am

It could also be a case of Loomis taking the bullet for Benson. It wouldn't be the first time an underling helped his superiors repudiate illegal actions...

by duh :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:13am

Yes, you could be right. I'm pretty sure though that the Commish will require a sacrifice here ... who is the most likely candidate?

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:52pm

It doesn't make that game feel any different in that regard to me because the smartest defensive strategy was to hit Favre often and hard. I think going to the Super Bowl was probably more important to the players than some "bounty" they had.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:26pm

Personally, I think all Vikings fans should get a free week on Bourbon Street as compensation.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:28pm

Definitely makes me more upset (as a Colts fan) that we didn't get Minny in the Super Bowl. I don't know if we could have beaten them either, but in isolation, I was more scared of NO.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:41pm

I think that, given how the Vikings dominated the line of scrimmage on the Saints home turf, it is hard to make the case that the Colts had a more favorable matchup against the Vikings. I kind of like the Vikings front four that year, against that year's edition of the Colts' offensive line.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:45pm

The thing is, by that point in his career, getting consistent pressure on Manning was almost impossible.

Looking back, I think the Vikings would have been a really tough matchup, but trying to stop that Saints passing attack without a healthy Freeney (basically the whole 2nd half) would have been impossible.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:52pm

Sacking Manning was nearly impossible. Pressure not so much. It wasn't as if they were scoring 40 a game.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:58pm

True. It might be just my way of coping with the loss by thinking mentally that had we gotten the Vikings we would have won. I mean, had Hank Baskett just not used his facemask to recover an onside kick, the Colts could have easily won.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:45am

Hard? Yeah. To the knee or head? No.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:51pm

Yeah I don't think a similar or harsher penalty than the Patriots got would be out of line here, particularly since they did injure a few QBs.

by displaced_saints_fan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:56pm

A few comments from a partisan:
- It appears that this was for the most part funded by players, though I've read that at least one coach may have contributed to the pool. It was not a team-funded thing.
- It is unlikely that the Saints are the only team hiding this kind of thing in their closet.
- Gregg Williams had worn out his welcome before this.
- The only thing I find really surprising is that Loomis and Payton didn't stop it once they found out about it. Loomis was apparently directed by Benson to shut it down and didn't.
- I think the retribution will be harsh and rightly so.
- It's not a great day to be a Saints fan.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:20pm

"It is unlikely that the Saints are the only team hiding this kind of thing in their closet."

My thoughts exactly. This is just a part of the underside of football. I don't know if any other team has a "bounty program" that seems as team-sanctioned as New Orleans, but this goes on in other locker rooms and position groups in a more informal fashion in the NFL.

I think they end up getting the T-wolves treatment over the Joe Smith affair. Maybe everyone other team was circumventing the cap, but when you do it that brazenly you're going to pay bigtime.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:30pm

They aren't being punished for being dirty; they're being punished for being stupid.

by countertorque :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:08pm

Every time something like this comes up, we hear the "everybody else is doing it too," argument. This argument is presented without any evidence that anyone else is doing it and is used as some sort of reason for why the offenders should not be punished.

Even if every other team in the league is doing it, it should be punished in this case. The purpose of punishment is to change behavior. We don't throw people in jail for murder because it does anything good for the offender or the victim. We do it so that other people will be less likely to commit murder in the future.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:54pm

What behavior do you think is going to change? Coaches and administrative staff being stupid enough (Comment 25 said it more eloquently than myself) to get involved in "bounties." But a position group (say LBs) could get together and put together a pool. Hell two players can put up a few grand each and the guy who knocks out the most players by the end of the year gets the money.

Does this hurt everyone's sensibilities that much? It's NFL football. A lot of guys don't even need a monetary incentive to make cheap, illegal hits.

The issue is the overt knowledge and even encouragement of Saints' coaches and staff and the fact they were told to stop and continued to do it anyway.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:54am

The purpose of punishment is to change behavior. We don't throw people in jail for murder because it does anything good for the offender or the victim. We do it so that other people will be less likely to commit murder in the future.

In theory, yes. But numbers show that harsher punishment doesn't work as a deterrent. In reality, we do it for the vengeance, especially as far as the death penalty is concerned.

In any case, I do agree with you.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:43pm

No - harsher penalties do work. Start executing people a month after their trial ends, and you'll see.

by rfh1001 :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 7:46am

Totally. Look how crazily harsh drug sentencing has emptied out the prisons.

by jonsilver :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 8:56pm


by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 1:37pm

Counterpoint: look at how rule changes/harsher penalties have reduced hard hits on quarterbacks and receivers.

We're not talking about actual crime. The psychological, economic, and social factors that go into a criminal action are a lot more nuanced.

by rfh1001 :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 1:42pm

Sorry, I was inveigled into breaking Rule One. I was responding to the executing criminals thing, which does not seem to be backed up by evidence (murder rates, countries with harsh sentences, etc.).

Harsh penalties, meaning game time primarily, for violent play will definitely be effective, because it is something that deeply impacts both players and the franchises that pay them.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 6:18am

I wouldn't ignore the prevention of further offenses by the specific criminal in question as a reason for sentencing. To take an extreme example, prospective serial killers are unlikely to be deterred, but I wouldn't advocate returning convicted ones to the streets.

by PatsFan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:56pm

LaCantora says that even Payton's agent put up bounty money on two locations.

by Jimmy :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:27pm

Then Payton's agent should be banned from any activity representing coaches or players in the league for life.

by PatsFan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:59pm

Could be more than just league punishment. Kirwan:

There could be lawsuits to follow by players injured in games against the Saints during the 2009-11 seasons.Lawers have been texting me

by drobviousso :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:06pm


by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:33pm

I do love it when the lawyers get involved in football. They always improve things.

by Kulko :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 5:23am

While lawyers certainly arent helpful, it bears mention, that hurting other people is forbidden by law.

Sports typically get a pass here, because its part fo the game and mostly deemed unintentonal. If you go out of your way to prove this assumption wrong, you should fully expect to be sued like any other brute who believes to solve his problems by hurting other people.

by Rabbit :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:13pm

To go with the class action suit the league faces on concussions; wonderful. Everyone involved in this is going to get skewered. If they aren't, there's precedent that the league doesn't care.

by drobviousso :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:05pm

1) I wonder how many other teams do this, and how the Saints compare.

2) I've always wondered if we will ever see a civil case come out of what happens on in a pro or college sports game. Do hockey players give up the right to sue for assault because fights are/were a regular part of the NHL? Are injury bounties a regular part of the NFL? Is it specified in their contracts? (I think this is a bit different than the Al Davis libel case)

by Chess-Eric (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:37pm

2.) Yes, NHL hockey. There will be a civil lawsuit this fall pertaining to the Todd Bertuzzi attack on Steve Moore. There were allegations that the coach wrote the player's jersey number on the board and said that he must 'pay a price'.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:46pm

The Bertuzzi lawsuit has been stalled for years, although it recently started moving again--it might actually happen this fall.

Criminal charges for on-ice events have happened, but only in Canada, and they've almost always been settled with plea bargains and no jail time.

by Passing through (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:09pm

I agree that this is probably more common in high levels of football than people realize. Remember that a Miami booster put a bounty on Tim Tebow and other rivals several years ago:


by Theo :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:38pm

I will bet you the Steelers players are chipping in any time a defensive player gets mail from the commissioner. It's a way of telling "play hard and all out - don't worry about the fines. We got your back."
Am I saying it's ok? No, it's not. Do I understand it and am I shocked? Nope.
Is it something totally different than paying each other for injuries? Yeah, that too.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:28pm

This is really, really, really, really scummy. I don't like "Bountygate"; maybe "Douchebaggate" or something?

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:59pm

If another break-in were to happen at the Watergate hotel, would the scandal be called "Watergategate"?

by Marko :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:01am

Exactly. I hate how every scandal becomes "_______gate."

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:18am

I just watched Frost/Nixon, and I'm entirely sure this is a bad thing.

I don't think I can say anything further without breaking rule 1, and really even this comment might be too far.

by akn :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:41am

Frost/Nixon was a great movie.

I agree, *gate needs to stop. Bountygate sounds like they stole a bunch of paper towels.

by Guest789 :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:48pm

Great movie.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by Jimmy :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:34pm

I am very disappointed to find this out but defensive players do sort of all get paid to beat the snot out of offensive players. A Niners fan I know has been talking all season long about how many offensive players their defence has knocked out of games this year, I have no idea if that makes the Niners a dirty team and I am not trying to cast aspersions but football is rather violent and good defenses more so. Of course the saints don't have a particularly good defense.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:34pm

In addition to being ethically wrong(cheating, and intent to cripple outside the rules) , this reeks of illegally circumventing the cap to boot. If Darth Goodell doesn't want to look like a hypocrite on the player-safety, fair-parity commish he claims to be, he needs to make a real example of them.

They should be stripped of all draft picks this year and next year, and as well have whatever bounty funds were set aside removed from their current cap. Additionally, reduce their roster by 3 players.

Williams should be kicked out of the league, and Payton banned one season. I would say fine the organization as well, but I think they'd be hemorraging $ for about 10 seasons as a result of the above.

Where would Breesus go if this happened?

Velvet Sky fan

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:46pm

Oh, if Goodell ever had good reason to put some people against the wall, professionally speaking, with a blindfold and cigarette, this is it.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:03pm


the pinnacle of Williams' achievement.

maybe he should sue ?

Velvet Sky fan

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:05pm

Tony Dungy speculated that Manning's chronic neck pain started from that hit, and that pain is what forced him to get the surgeries that led to him missing 2011.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:02pm

Screw Alex Smith, Brees to San Francisco!

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:37pm

I know this is more common than reported, but what makes this especially egregious is the participation of a coach, and if the report is true that Payton's agent was involved, this is off the charts bad, especially if Payton knew.

Why this may warrant a real hanging, however, is if the report is true that the league told Loomis to see the practice ended, and Loomis did not. If THAT is true, then I think Goodell needs to erect a gallows with several nooses, and have more than one execution of a career, along with docking the Saints several draft picks, just to give an education to any other woodheads around the league as to the value of taking instructions from the league office seriously. Frankly, if Goodell had taken a more severe apporach to spygate, for that very same reason, the morons in New Orleans may have gotten the message.

by Alternator :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:34am

You don't consider docking a first round pick--the worst modern punishment that any NFL team has received--to be a "severe approach"? Did you want Belichick to be castrated with a rusty spoon or something?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:43am

For all those ill-gotten wins I think if it were a flat trade without the ethical implications every team would take it every time. Heck, we have three seasons with no real Super Bowl champion because of it. You don't let the people responsible for that stay in the league. The "worst modern punishment that any NFL team has received" was essentially nothing at all in light of the severity of the infraction.

by Jimmy :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 10:41am

Goodell's punishment prescription for Spygate seemed to me to be the greatest punishment he could apply without blatantly advertising that the transgression had ruined three seasons of football.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:14am

When Belichik gave the excuse that he misunderstood the implications of the league advisory on the practice, and thus continued in his behavior, I would have, if I had been commissioner for a day (and I've never been anti-Patriot), told Bill that I was taking away all his draft picks for a year. I then would have told him that not having to develop a draft board should free up some time that he could use for some remedial English classes. I've found that many slow learners, if given the right stimulus, can rapidly increase their cognitive capabilities.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:50pm

Let's hope you never get a job as a judge.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:06pm

Or as a teacher...

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:46pm

Seems to work pretty well for the Marine Corps, among other, er, more enthusiastic training organizations, and I daresay I'd be willing to match up their record of successful teaching against the average high school in the U.S.

by Pied :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 1:32pm

Get back to us when high schools are voluntary enlistment with standards, paying students, and free to discharge them.

You are USMC, I am a teacher.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 5:36pm

The people we are discussing as students here, NFL coaches and football players, are more similar to Marines, than they are high school students. I wasn't trying to denigrate teachers, although perhaps I worded it poorly. The point is that the at will employees of the NFL, on average, are extremely sensitive, compared to the population at large, to disincentives.

I will forgo a discussion of who would be likely to perform in their opposite's job better, if an average Marine DI and the average high school civics teacher were to swap roles.

by MJK :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 5:46pm

Didn't the Simpsons already explore this question?

"I don't know what I've been told,
but the Parthenon is really old"

"How old?"

"We don't know"

"That's good, but needs improvement..."

by Will Allen :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 5:55pm


by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 1:14am

Not to be pedantic, but Seymour Skinner re-joined the Army, not the Marines. The joke still works mighty fine, even if a Marine would be grossly offended if they were confused for a soldier.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:55pm

Ever see a judge give an education to a slow-learning attorney, as to the meaning of "contempt of court"?

(edit) To add on, have you ever seen what a judge will sometimes do to a prosecutor who tries to contravene a judge's order with regard to entering evidence into the record?

by MJK :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 6:42pm

Only on "Law and Order", which is fiction, not reality. What will a judge do to lawyers who play fast and loose with their courtroom rules? Beyond the obvious "contempt of court" ruling?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:37pm

Judges can be pretty snide at times.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:51pm

A mistrial with prejudice can be declared, meaning the prosecutor can't bring charges again. A contempt of court declaration can be a very serious matter.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:17pm

My issue is with the apparent desire to impose excessive punishments, based on presumptions of the sincerity of the defense.
If you're in traffic court, and a defendant makes an obvious bs excuse for failing to keep his inspections in line, and you respond by impounding his car, I don't think you're making society better.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:46pm

Well, this isn't a court of law. The NFL is a private, for profit entity, and if the NFL decides that a prominent member of the organization has put forth a ridiculous explanation for engaging in misconduct, misconduct that the NFL believes threatens the repuation of the NFL, the NFL is ethically free to mete out an extremely harsh punishment, in an effort to set an example.

by KBee (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 11:51pm

Will Allen's auditioning for a gig writing for ProFootballTalk.com really is getting tiresome.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 12:09am

Aw, shucks, I love you too!

by Rocco :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 12:27am

Will seems more in touch with reality than Florio.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:45pm

Wasn't Buddy Ryan pretty notorious for this stuff back in the day? I'd be amazed if other teams weren't doing this too.

I don't really like the Spygate comparison. I think they're two very different things. The Pats were arguably cheating to gain a competitive edge, the Saints were rewarding attempts to injure people with cash bonuses but I don't think there is any possibility of the outcome of the superbowl being affected.

However, to deliberately set out to injure someone is close to unforgivable, the game is violent enough without going to those lengths. The more I think about it the worse I think it is and the coaches and some of the players responsible should be sanctioned as well as the Saints. Also, fining the Saints and stripping them of a draft pick doesn't affect someone like Gregg Williams, who looks like one of the main culprits.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:50pm

It is the failure to cease and desist when instructed that makes this worthy of the most severe sanctions imaginable. Again, I really thought Goodell screwed up by letting the Patriots off lightly in the face of their behavior after receiving instructions to the contrary, but this seems like it may have been even more blatant.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:56pm

I do wonder just what Belichick had to be thinking on the morning he told his cameraman to go into Giants' stadium wearing Patriots' gear to film the game on the first day his former assistant head coach was now the head coach of the Jets.

I think he had to think that he wasn't breaking the rules. Now how he thought that is beyond me. I suspect he thought that the rules were what the rule book said, and that if the "clarification" letter from Goodell was in conflict with the written rules, he could ignore it. But really, that was not a wise attitude to take.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:08am

The reason why I favored taking an entire year's draft away from the Patriots was to free up Belichik's time for a couple months, so he could take a remedial reading class, to better enable him to understand missives from the league office.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:14pm

That's why I wonder if BB even read the letter from the league office sent in 2006.

The rule on the books was:

"No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game."

The Pats were not breaking that rule. Their cameraman was no in the booth, or on the field, or in the locker room. He was in the stands.

The letter in 2006 said:
"Video taping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."

This letter makes it clear that the taping the Patriots had been doing was now considered to be against the rules.

I see some possibilities:
a) Belichick didn't read this letter. Seems plausible. Mangini certainly read this letter.
b) Belichick read the letter, but didn't view it to be controlling. He could have thought "Hmm...Ray Anderson is misrepresenting what the rule says." My analogy would be to say that a letter from the Department of Justice only says what they think the law is. The DoJ doesn't have the power to change the law (recent abuses notwithstanding). For that you need either the legislature to pass a new law or a court to declare a law unconstitutional.
If this is what BB was doing, he was playing with fire. I suspect he may have had a legal case, if rules could only be changed by a rules committee, and advisory opinions by the league office were not intended to have the force of law.

But really, I think it's more likely he didn't personally read the 2006 letter. But who knows, really?

by PatsFan :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:18pm

He was in the stands.

I'm pretty sure he was on the sideline, not in the stands.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:51pm

The only problem to me with suspending Williams is that that is hurting the Rams. That said, considering Williams was Fisher's DC, he might have known about this (after hearing that Williams might have had this going on in Washington, it is fine to wonder how far back it went - certainly considering the beating they put on Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV). It isn't really fair to the Rams, but I think Goodell might try to make an example out of this.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:58pm

I think it's pretty likely that this has been going on for a while. Buddy Ryan used to put bounties on the Cowboys kicker, punter and quarterbacks. Williams coached with Fisher under Ryan with those damn scary Oilers defenses, that's where he learned the 46 scheme that he's adapted. I'd be suprised if he wasn't in some way responible for it and so he should be punished. (if that hurts the rams that's just a bonus for this niners fan;-))

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:08am

Why would you put a bounty on a kicker in a slump? You want him to kick ;-)

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:01pm

He just about has to, regardless of the effect on the Rams. Otherwise a coach could flout the rules, and when things got hot, change jobs, and then say "Hey, you can't hammer me; look what it'll do to my new employer!".

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:04pm

I know. It's just is sad that there is a possible innocent party that gets penalized as well.

BTW, I like pft's idea of stripping the Saints of their franchise tag (essentially making it that much harder for them to keep Brees, Nicks and COltson) as part of the punishment considering the Saints don't have a 1st round pick.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:34pm

Otherwise a coach could flout the rules, and when things got hot, change jobs, and then say "Hey, you can't hammer me; look what it'll do to my new employer!".

a.k.a. "The Calipari"

by Marko :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:05am

Yes, Buddy Ryan was notorious for this. Also, I'm surprised that the name of Charles Martin hasn't come up in this thread. Both Ryan and Martin are mentioned in this article: http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/bears-talk/post/Williams-bounty-scandal-e...

by bubqr :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:49pm

This is what it takes to have a great defense like the Saints one.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:07pm

New Orle*ns S*ints

Velvet Sky fan

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:20pm

Shawne Merriman has pointed out his long standing claim that Kevin Mawae deliberately injured him in response to a hit he put on Vince Young at the request of Jeff Fisher. This could get really ugly for the Rams.


by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:12pm

Tony Dungy is also accusing Fisher of putting a bounty on Peyton Manning over on PFT.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:39pm

Speaking on behalf of Pats' fans...


Happy happy joy joy!

Now leave us alone!!!

by Rabbit :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:44pm

One needs an IQ of a flea to believe "Spygate" tilted competitive balance, so be like me and ignore them.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:47pm

Bugger, I've got the IQ of a flea.

by PatsFan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:50pm

Amused to see people here roll out the "everyone does it" line to excuse the Saints. Especially when it's some of the same people who said "everybody does it" was no excuse for Cameragate.

Also amused by Karl Cuba's "well, I don't think it affected the superbowl" excuse. Didn't realize "well, we attempted an illegal act but happened to fail to execute" was the excuse all the cool kids use these days.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:59pm

It's OK to copy off the kid next to you if he's a D student.

by Jimmy :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:36pm

I am not making any excuses but I would suspect that this kind of thing is more pervasive throughout the league both in terms of how many teams do (or have done) it and how long it has been in the league.

Also the 'everyone does it' as applied to Spygate was little different in that the argument went that everyone stole signals wheras the pats got punished for using video tapes to steal signals. Thus there was a difference (decide its sgnificance for yourself) in what the pats had done and what 'everybody' did.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:53pm

I'm curious about this - most of what I've read has quotes from players saying it's pervasive, but I don't think I've seen one yet where they say they were a part of it personally. It might be a matter of self-incrimination, but it might also just be a myth - something that is perceived in other teams, and multiplied in the locker room.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:06pm

I'm always glad to cheer you up, I was simply suggesting that they didn't manage to injure any of their targets in their Superbowl run. If you are of the opinion that they were delivering a bunch of late hits that affected the outcome of several games then I think there could be some validity to that, I can't remember the games closely enough to have a clear opinion.

Additionally, just because me and some others have said that this has been going on for a while and involves several teams doesn't mean that we condone the practice, I think it's despicable. It could yet be shown that this stuff has been going on across the league for a very long time, it might become clear, it might not and is probably too early to say. I will predict that the NFL will make every effort to hush this up just like they did with the videotaping signals scandal.

As for spygate, which I really didn't want to get into again, I never really accepted that 'everyone' was using video to steal signals like the Pats were, I felt that the 'everyone' in that case seemed to be confined to the Parcells coaching tree. Phil Simms, also known as that blithering idiot Phil Simms, made it clear that he regularly knew the opponents defenses whereas Steve Young is on the record as saying that he didn't have such information.

Last time round Goodell decided that the best thing was to brush the mess under the carpet as far as possible and he'll do the same again after making an example out of some of the people responsible in order to prevent any future bounties.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:22pm

"I was simply suggesting that they didn't manage to injure any of their targets in their Superbowl run."

I dare say Brett Favre would disagree.


by Tim G (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:47pm

I also disagree that they didn't manage to injure any of their targets. I remember three late/questionable hits on Favre during the NFC Championship game. I also remember Favre being slightly hobbled late in the game which I think was one factor that led to his costly interception at the end of the 4th quarter.

As a fan of an AFC team, I was neutral on the Saints when the playoffs began, but as I was watching them play against the Cardinals and Vikings, they seemed to be going after both Warner and Favre, hitting them each late or low several times. I'm not a fan of the Colts, but I was definitely rooting for them to win in the Super Bowl. I also remember thinking before the game, if the Saints went after Manning in the same manner, they'd draw a lot of negative attention for it. Perhaps the Saints realized it as well, as I do not recall anything I felt was particularly dirty in the Super Bowl.

by morganja :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:52pm

Back in 2009 I think it was, I saw Scott Fujita, on the side away from the play, after the play was over, run into the back of Steve Smith's knees with the clear intent to injure.

I can understand the refs missing it. It was nowhere near the play. But this is something that could be looked at after a game is over during the week. They have all those cameras, use them.

The league needs to come down hard on this nonsense. The league suffers when the stars are injured which means less revenue for the teams and then everyone is suffering. This is such stupidity that it has to be stamped out.

1) Loomis banned for 5 years, Williams for 3, Payton for 1;
2) Records turned over to the league and any player who was paid out for a hit that injured is suspended for four games for each injury;
3) Each non-injury hit that was paid out is reviewed right now. If the player can be seen trying to injure the opponent, a four game suspension;
4) Each pay-out due to injury is a fine for the team of $250,000 for each game suspended paid to the injured player's team.
5) Each other pay out, $100,000 paid per game suspended paid to the other team.
6) Both amounts count against the salary cap.

The problem is that Goodell came down so easy on the Patriots that it is difficult to impose this appropriate punishment now.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:08pm

"The problem is that Goodell came down so easy on the Patriots that it is difficult to impose this appropriate punishment now."

I Dont think so. His whole schtick is that player safety is #1.

Velvet Sky fan

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:56pm

The problem is that Goodell came down so easy on the Patriots that it is difficult to impose this appropriate punishment now.

You really think it's equivalent to videotape a game that's being played, in public, on national TV, in a stadium where anybody other than a paid employee of an NFL franchise is free to use a videocamera, and to intentionally injure players for money?

That's like saying "Well, that guy who was caught speeding was only fined $85, so I guess we can't throw the DUI convict in jail."

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:23pm

Well according to the NFL "Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent, is prohibited."

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:38pm

The word "telecast" does not apply to images taken by cameras other than those owned by the TV networks. Indeed, it doesn't even apply to all of those images. It applies only to the images broadcast by the network.

And, FWIW, at no point has it ever been suggested that NFL teams are not allowed to use telecasts for whatever purpose they may deem fit. Teams are allowed to use those tapes as much as they desire.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:42pm

I think you missed this clause "any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game."

Of course I don't think any of this is legally binding, fair use still exists in this country, well after a fashion.

by Theo :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:25pm

Just because they say a line doesn't make it true. In fact, it's not. You CAN use the telecast.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:19am

I agree, I'm just saying it's not like the NFL as a body really has two different policies here.

by drobviousso :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:41pm

The Rog' is hardly one to let his own past behavior set precedent.

by Dales :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:12pm

I blame the players and their union. They should have put a stop to this. Of course owners and coaches will get the blame, but owners' job is to win. The union's job is to look out for the interests of the players.

by nuk :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:21pm

You're completely right that the union should have stopped this. But that doesn't excuse the management.

by morganja :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:22pm

I don't think you are understanding the interest of the owners here. They pay players to bring in revenue. If those players get injured it costs them money. They lose revenue from their stars, while at the same time they have to spend money to bring in substitute players in addition to the salaries they are paying their injured ones.

They have invested signing bonuses and guaranteed money in many of these guys.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:15pm

It's the other team they were trying to injure.

by Dales :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:17pm


by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:44pm

I think it's cool somebody found a way to blame the union.

America rocks!

by Independent George :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:09pm

Is he wrong? This is exactly the sort of thing the union is supposed to fight for.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:16pm

Do we even know that the union knew about this practice?

Isn't is simpler to blame Gregg Williams and the Saints coaches? You know, the people running the program?

It's like blaming the police for crime instead of blaming the criminals themselves.

by Dean :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:19pm

Of course the union knew about it. It was their members who were accepting the bounties!

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:24pm

No, that's not how "the union" works.

If you say that players know about something, that's not the same as saying "the union" knows about something.

Your argument is like saying that, if an American citizen is involved in something, then the American government is involved. This may be true in a poetic sense, but in a legal sense, it isn't.

Unless a player formally brings up the issue with the union, then it makes no sense to blame the union, as opposed to simply blaming the players.

If you want to blame the players, that's a different argument, and I think there's a good deal of merit to it.

by Dales :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:19pm

The union is made up of the players. Since the players were part of it, it is the union's job to know about it.

And thank God in America there are sufficient people aware of the counter-productive nature of unions to keep them in check.

by Jimmy :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:25pm


by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:25pm

"thank God in America there are sufficient people aware of the counter-productive..."

yada yada yada, take it elsewhere.

Unions guarantee a living wage for work done. I, for one, don't want to return to a medieval labor market.

by Jimmy :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:26pm

I assumed that the comment was tongue in cheek. I could have been wrong.

by Fielding Melish (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:03pm

You were wrong. This has been a right-wing talking point for about two years now. 'Everything wrong with America is because of unions.' If only they would get out of the way of the honest businessman/corporations, everyone would be bathing in gold coins.
It's idiocy, but there you go.

by CoachDave :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:11pm

I'll take "Union propaganda-based hyperbole for $500 Alex."

Yes, the only thing keeping our labor class from the medieval ages of old is the protective nature of Unions.

by morganja :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:26pm

I assume you are aware that the institution of a union in the NFL has zero relationship to unions outside the NFL and your gratuitous union-bashing has zero relevance to the subject at hand. If you don't understand why, I would recommend that you get a first-year economics text and educate yourself.

by Independent George :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:01pm

I do blame Greg Williams and the Saints Coaches. But they do not represent the players interests; that's the NFLPA. It's the union's job to stand up for players when the coaches pull stunts like this. Think about what's going on here - it creates a financial interest in injuring a player. Whoever the union rep was on the Saints, he definitely failed in his job.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:49pm

Damn atheist commies and their unions!

by Independent George :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:21pm

Er, except I've been saying that the Union needs to fight harder on behalf of its members against acts by management versus the players.

by qsi :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:28am

The real test of the union will come when players are punished by the NFL for their participation in the bounty scheme. Saints player A got $1000 for taking out Opponent player B, and then is suspended/fined/disqualified for life by the NFL. Will the union try to get player A off the hook, or side with player B who was injured by player A? Presumably both players A and B are union members.

That will tell us a lot about the union.

by Peregrine :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:21pm

As a Falcons fan, I'm not surprised by this at all. The Saints defenders have been a bunch of punks under Payton / Williams.

Suspensions and big fines are in order. Personally, I also vote for taking away every draft pick through 2020.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:23pm

Also, they should break the levee and flood the city again?

by Peregrine :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:01pm

Nah. It's a great town. I just hate their football team.

Belichick was fined $500k for Spygate. I'd expect at least that for some of the Saints coaches and execs, based on the reports going around. But I think the punishment, to be effective, needs to impact the team on the field in 2012 and maybe beyond. Because it was an organizational failure. Suspensions, yes, and draft picks.

by jbrown (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:36pm

I think you hit on a key point here about impacting the team on the field in 2012. Spygate made sense to punish the team/management for bad behavior but there wasn't really any lasting competitive advantages or lingering effects from taping signals (which could/should be changed by the next game). Injuring a player has implications far beyond that single game and, in some cases, the player's career

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:06am

We're trying to hurt New Orleans, not Houston.

by MJK :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:22pm

Wow. First off, I'm really saddened by this. It's about 1000 times worse than the news that the Giants were intentionally trying to concuss Kyle Williams in the NFCCG because of his concussion history, and that was terrible.

I'm even more saddened because I'm pretty sure people are right when they say that this probably isn't limited only to the Saints. It's probably true that, if not "everyone", at least "many" people do it.

There are definitely classy defenders out there...but there are also certainly ones that see it as their job to try to injure. And that's a shame.

I'm especially upset because I had admired Payton as one of the better coaches in the game, and had thought the Saints to be one of the classier organizations, and one that I could mildly root for when rooting for an NFC team. Now they fall almost to the bottom of my list, and while I don't know that Payton had much to do with this, it will certainly stain him.

I actually agree with morganja (first time for everything, right!) that practically everyone has an interest in seeing this kind of thing ended. People pay to see the stars, and to see the players they recognize. Think of how much less popular the SB would have been in Brady, Welker, Wilfork, Eli, Cruz, and Osi had all be injured on top of Gronk! So fewer injuries mean more revenue for the league as a whole, which in turn means more money to both the owners and the players, and a more enjoyable experience for the fans. Goddell needs to come down hard on this. morganja's suggestions, as usual, are a little extreme, but I would be OK with them... (of course, it won't be THAT hard).

Now to the people comparing this to Spygate...get a grip. Compare:

One one hand, a team guilty of recording the other team's coaches from the sideline instead of from the endzone (where it is legal to do so), on the off chance that there might be a competitive advantage if they faced the same coach again some time in the future and he was dumb enough not to change his signals...


A team, at the behest of the general manager and the defensive coordinator, circumventing the salary cap, paying un-reported bonuses to defensive players, and specifically paying players to try to injure other players. Apparently after the league AND the team owner had instructed them to stop. This happening right as the league "puts an emphasis on player safety".

It's not in the same league of offense. I thought the Patriots penalty was too harsh (mainly, it was Goddell being mad at Belichick saying f**** you to him), but perhaps somewhat defensible. I have a hard time thinking I will feel that anything that happens to the Saints or to Loomis or Williams will be too harsh.

by Theo :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:34pm

"but there are also certainly ones that see it as their job to try to injure. And that's a shame."
Trust me, every single one of the defenders wants to hit people out of the game. Sure you hope the guy will be ok tomorrow, but for that day; he should be off the field.
It's a mentality thing.

by Alternator :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:47am

Patriots lost a first round pick, and Belichick lost $500k, for taping information that could have been (less effectively, I'm sure) gained in permitted methods.

Saints players succeeded in injuring an unknown number of players, with a potentially VERY strong case to be made that one of those injuries directly led to a Super Bowl berth, and attempted to injure others. In addition, paying bonuses amounts to circumventing the salary cap.

Combined with the Redskins allegations, I'd expect Gregg Williams to be banned from the NFL for life along with a significant (one million $+) fine, and for the Saints to lose their 2013 first round pick, their 2012 second round pick, and the ability to franchise tag anyone for the next few years. There could also be a salary cap reduction for the team, which would fit the 'evades salary cap' aspect nicely, if it's determined that said evasion was more than speculation.

The Saints are going to feel this one for a long time.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:03am

If it is true that the head coach's agent, fer' cryin' out loud, put up bounty money, I'd go so far as to say that anybody in management who knew of it may have to go, for multiple seasons.

by rd (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:15am

I don't think a fine against Gregg Williams would be enforceable if he were banned from the league for life.

by Kurt :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:36pm

There's an article up on washingtonpost.com claiming that Redskins players also had a bounty system under Williams. Five players and an assistant coach confirm. Gibbs denied knowledge.


by justanothersteve :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:21am

As much as all this angers me, I can't help but think of Goodell sounding like Captain Renault finding out that gambling is going on in Rick's Café Américain. Doesn't excuse it. Doesn't mean there shouldn't be severe punishment (like Williams being banned for a couple years and the Saints losing some draft picks, for starters). But I can't help but think Goodell himself was somehow complicit in this.

by Marko :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:37am

I just had a thought: I think this means that the Saints will not play in the opening game against the Giants. There are a lot of attactive potential opponents for the opening game, including the Packers and the Steelers as well as the Giants' divisional opponents. Saints-Giants would be a great matchup, too, but there's no way the league wants this scandal to be front and center during the buildup to that marquee game kicking off the season.

by dmstorm22 :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:51am

I doubt they would have given it to the Saints anyway, since the Saints had to go on the road last year for the opener.

Actually, considering how that game has been money for the home team, maybe that is a good punishment for the Saints.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:46am

Wow, this is pretty awful. The comparisons to spygate are apt. I think the proper punishment in this case depends on a few factors. I see multiple levels here each worse than the last.

1. Try to hit hard within the context of the game. Try to hurt, as in pain/intimidation, but do not try to injure.
2. Try to hit hard but not injure, but explicit willingness to violate the rules of the game to do so.
3. Try to injure but within the context of the rules of the game. As in attempting damage, but only via otherwise legal play.
4. Try to injure and damn the rules.

I don't see #1 as a problem except in the context of a pay-for-pain scheme. In fact I suspect that it's pretty much the norm. 2 is a bit worse, but not in my opinion terribly unconscionable. 3 and especially 4 are pretty vile.

If it's four and was commonplace and is not something that is "done everywhere else", which I would consider a very strong mitigating factor but not absolution, I'd say:

1. Anyone directly involved, as in took or paid bounties or approved of it from management perspective, is banned from participating in anything NFL related for life.
2. All non-participant players are immediately deemed to be unrestricted free agents as if cut by the team.
3. Any championship/playoff wins during the timeframe in question are vacated.
4. The franchise is dissolved.
5. The city of New Orleans is immediately granted a new expansion team. If nobody wants to buy a team there, then the NFL sets up a committee a-la the Packers to run the team until a willing owner can be found. The new team would have rights to the record, name, etc. of the old Saints franchise.

The NCAA had it right with SMU. But this is the same set of actions that should have come down on the Patriots in 2007. Considering they got off with essentially no punishment, I doubt that any real punishment will come down here.

by Alternator :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:49am

You really think video taping signals should have resulted in the dissolution of the Patriots franchise? Really?

The level of derp on the site has certainly increased since 2007, and even back then it was pretty bad w/r/g the taping scandal.

by justme_cd :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:28pm

Please, there's been plenty of derp on FO for as long as they've allowed comments. It's just that a lot of it here has been brilliantly confined to irrational threads, or possibly Fox message boards scarred and scared most FO commenters into at least appearing intelligent.

Also, 50,000 pages!

Also, there seems to be some ideas going around that it would be ok to have a bounty as long as illegal hits don't win the bounty because no rules are broken by legal hits.

1. I think I read somewhere that the rules specifically prohibit bounties, so that alone would make it very punishable
2. that idea definitely undermines the spirit of the rules
3. There may be ways to pay bounties that don't undermine the salary cap (perhaps if only players contribute) but the way this situation played out seems to have definitely broken salary cap rules.
4. I'm not sure how you could ethically argue this was fine if the bounty resulted in paying someone for a Jack Tatum hit

by masoch (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 10:36pm

50,000 pages! At the average rate of 275 wpm, and 500 words per page... by my quick mental math that report would take over 189 DAYS to read! (Assuming one tried to read it for 8 hours per day. Non-stop. With no slowdown due to eyestrain/fatigue/brain hemorrhaging.)

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:43am

Yes, really. Look at the results. Three invalid Super Bowls. Three seasons where the biggest sport in the country has no champion because one of its team thought it was a good idea to cheat their way to victory. No, that team shouldn't get to stick around. If you're playing poker and one of the players is found to have been receiving signals telling him his opponents card does the casino just shrug and tell him not to do it again? If a boxer wins a championship belt with iron weights in his gloves does he get to keep the title, pay a fine, and keep competing? You're way off base if you think that saying a team should actually be punished for cheating its way to victory is "derp."

by PatsFan :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:36am

So we should dissolve every team that's ever tampered with a not-yet-free agent? That's "cheating their way to victory". We should dissolve the 49ers and Broncos because they "cheated their way to victory" with their salary cap violations in the past? We should dissolve the Steelers because their 1970s teams (including their SB teams) "cheated their way to victory" by being full of 'roid users? We should dissolve the NYJ because they "cheated their way to victory" with their special teams coach and his sideline wall? Heck, the Broncos are known to have taped another team's pregame walkthrough. I don't recall you calling for their dissolution when that came out.

by PatsFan :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:02am

And before you ask, yes, I do believe those things have more effect on the result of games than overtly (yes, despite the "Spygate" moniker, the taping was done in the open by a person standing on the sideline and wearing Patriots staff clothing and at least one opposing head coach (Herm Edwards) even knew it was being done as he was seen waving to the camera on one of the tapes, or so some reports from non-NE media said at the time) taping information which could have been obtained totally legally (though less effectively) by having a guy on the sideline with binoculars watching the opponent's defensive coaches and dictating what he was seeing to a second guy with a notepad.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:37pm

Losing a first round pick is the largest punishment to date for any transgressions right? So the league office thinks it is the worst rule breaking committed.

Also, Goddell destroyed the evidence, so we have no idea exactly what the Patriots had done, and never will.

by PatsFan :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:47pm

One of the networks (Fox Sports, IIRC) got their hands on copies of at least some of the tapes, and aired pieces of them.

by Alternator :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 1:21am

Belichick basically had the book thrown at him, and by extension the Patriots, for giving the finger to The Goddell. There's a reason he was fined a HALF MILLION DOLLARS in addition to punishing the team with the lost draft pick: The Roger didn't like how his underling was acting.

The worst case of cheating that granted a tangible competitive advantage would be the Broncos evading the salary cap to maintain a Super Bowl team. The Patriots did something that other retired coaches had admitted to doing, and they got reamed for doing it AFTER the "reminder" letter went out.

by Jimmy :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 10:31am

No one is going to take any lombardis off the steelers but personally I have a lot less credit to the 'legendary' GM and drafting when they were turning marginal athletes into stars with roid juice. So it is somewhat tarnished. Same for the pats wins and videotaping defensive signals. I suspect pats fans uniformly consider it to be a trivial matter whereas many fans from other teams are somewhat dismayed by the whole saga and don't really know what to think.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:06am

I thought the Pats got off way too lightly, given the degree of insubordination, disguised as "I am but a simple caveman football coach; your memos are strange and bizarre to me....", but frankly, for any team which was harmed by the Patriots stealing signals, I have about as much concern as somebody who gets their car stolen, after leaving the keys on the hood of the vehicle, while they go in to a saloon to have a few beers. The smallest of precautions would have avoided any competitive disadvantage, and I just can't get too worked up about highly paid people who are too damned lazy to take them.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 10:18am

We should dissolve the Steelers because their 1970s teams (including their SB teams) "cheated their way to victory" by being full of 'roid users?

Difficulty: Steroids were legal in the NFL until 1983.

by Cro-mags (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 10:49am

"Three invalid Super Bowls. Three seasons where the biggest sport in the country has no champion because one of its team thought it was a good idea to cheat their way to victory."

You should read the NFL rulebook on videotaping regulations prior to 2007.

What the Pats did was surely unethical, I still don't understand how they could logistically translate signals in game, trasmit them to their team, shift to the proper counter-play, execute properly and exploit the signals all in 15 seconds. That's absurd.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:41pm

For me, the trope that the Pats couldn't have derived useful information from their taping is overstated. All you would need to decipher useful information would be to work out which portion of the signal was related to the deep coverage (ie. cover-0, cover-1 etc). Then there would at most ten signals for that, which would be much easier to identify given that the coaches in the booth will have been breaking the plays down as part of their duties. The information wouldn't have to be sent into the qb via the headset, it could be a coach on the sideline signaling the qb pre-snap. I'm pretty sure that deep coverage information could be garnered in this way and that would be a distinct advantage.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:18pm

The rule that the Pats broke wasn't even published until 2006.

"Three invalid Super Bowls" my a$$.

by Rabbit :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:50am

I'm shocked by some of the comments made here about "Spygate". With ESPN and its ilk, I can understand posters not knowing the first thing about what Spygate was about. After all, half of them can't read. But here? I am very, very disappointed.

1) There is no rule forbidding the videotaping of opposition coaches.
2) Belichick and the Patriots were not fined for taping opposition coaches.
3) Belichick's interpretation of the league's Policy Manual, particularly section V: Miscellaneous Rules and Regulations, was correct.

"No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." That's the rule.

Goodell misquoted that rule by changing "field" to "sideline", something he didn't have the right to do without a league vote of owners. Belichick, realizing that NFL Films, for one, were granted rights to film on the sidelines, said "f%$k off, Goodell, the original rule stands. We can't film on the field but we still can on the sidelines, so take your opinion and shove it"

As MJK opined, that's what Belichick was fined for. Apparently there is some rule that states a HC is not allowed to tell the league's commissioner to f&%k off.

/no more about this
/not threadjacking a topic that has nothing to do with "Spygate", except that the media, in all their moronicy, will get that one wrong too.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:35pm

I don't think the Pats' cameraman was on the sideline anyway. I think he was in the stands.

You're offering the defense of "letters from the league office don't constitute rules." I think there's something to that, from a legal standpoint, but our country has gotten so authoritarian that the intended difference between legislative and executive actions appears to have been lost on the public. So people think "If Goodell says it's the rule, it's the rule!"

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 10:31am

From the preface (2011 edition): "Any intra-League dispute or call for interpretation in connection with these rules will be decided by the Commissioner of the League, whose ruling will be final."

Although the wording of field is arbitrary within the definitions section, the sidelines and bench area are included in Figure 1 (page iv), which illustrates the field and its markings.

by AnonymousB (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:10pm

Let's see how the targeted quarterbacks feel.

Favre: "I'm not pissed. It's football. I don't think anything less of those guys."

Warner: "To think that guys didn't think, 'Hey, we'd love to knock Kurt out or we'd love to knock Brett Favre out, or Drew Brees -- or whoever it might be -- I think that's part of the game and I think that's part of the mindset."

My initial reaction was like most, this is a huge deal. Comments like these, and coaches who predate this like Buddy Ryan, make me wonder if indeed it isn't that uncommon. Either way, Goodell has to act, at the very least for PR reasons.

by MJK :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:22pm

If you're a star QB, it's almost a badge of honor, and not totally unexpected. After all, people have been trying to knock your block off probably since JV in high school.

In addition, if you're a star QB, you have 5-7 personal bodyguards dedicated on each play to doing nothing else but protecting you. You have a host of rules designed specifically to protect you, forbidding defenders from hitting you in a variety of ways or at a variety of times. There are seven striped policeman on the field, and one of their top priorities is to make sure you don't get injured due to illegal action. There are a host of cameras watching, and literal armies of NFL officials who will look at the film from those cameras and punish after the fact any defender who crossed the line after the fact.

But what about that third string linebacker making league minimum, with probably a totla of 4 seasons in the NFL, and playing special teams? The Saints players (and probably players on other teams) get bounties for knocking him out, too. He doesn't have the protection a star QB has. What about that rookie WR showing promise who gets decapitated by a bounty hunting safety? What about that non-star TE who falls on a fumble and has his fingers intentionally broken at the bottom of a pile out of the eyes of the referees and the cameras?

I don't think we should be asking the pamered, protected, darlings of the games if they mind this kind of thing. I think we should be asking the other 20 or so guys on offense who aren't stars and don't get special protection from bounty-hunting defenders.

by AnonymousB (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:36pm

I assume the bounties are larger for better players but your point is fair.

I can see both sides of the the argument re: how bad, common, etc. it is and I also think there has to be severe punishment no matter where someone might come down on the first.

by Shattenjager :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:00pm

I predict zero punishment and that no one remembers this by the start of the season.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:23pm

if he's still a Saint next season, Brees is definitely going to be remembering it as he gets a dose of it

Velvet Sky fan

by justsomeguy (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:39pm

Gotta love the FO crowd. "Hey, everyone does it; what's the big deal?" "Can you provide proof that any advantage was gained from this or prove statistically that the Saints injured more opponents than other teams?" Rationalize it away all you want; it's against the rules and it needs to be punished.

by drobviousso :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:45pm

Would you feel better if we put in a disclaimer proclaiming our moral standings before we post something that could be misconstrued by stupid readers?

by RickD :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:58pm

This just isn't an accurate characterization of the majority of the comments. It seems like one person showed up and said it's not a big deal, but almost every person who's chimed in has said the opposite.

by theslothook :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:07pm

Though the crimes are very different, i think the big thing that both spygate and this have in common is that the nfl issued a warning and in both instances, they were ignored. Given that, i feel the appropriate punishment should be exactly what NE got. Bounties feel horrific, but honestly, i think most of us acknowledge that players are trying to win football games and will do whatever they can to win. Its the same reason so many nasty things happen on a scramble for a fumble or at the bottom of piles.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:57pm

This involved many more employees of the NFL than Spygate did, and very possibly a more serious transgression against their rules (don't screw with the salary cap), and might even be illegal as Will Allen pointed out these were taxable amounts of money.

by PatsFan :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:25pm

Looks worse and worse for Greg(g) Williams. Buffalo News is about to report Williams promoted rewards for injuring opponents when he was in Buffalo, too.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:54pm

So now this turns into a 'yes, but Spygate' thread? Stay classy, Football Outsiders. What we need is more Manning/Brady talk - those were the good old days.

The ability to stay on topic correlates remarkably with intelligence. I guarantee the off-topic posts here come from the lesser among us.

by Jimmy :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 9:58am

Well done that is possibly the least valuable guarantee in human history.

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 1:06pm

I'd just like to point out that you have strayed off topic.

by tuluse :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 5:30pm


by theslothook :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 11:27pm

is spygate off topic? those are the only two team wide conspiracies in nfl history that have been under investigation. And since we're mostly speculating on what the punishments are going to be, its entirely appropriate to compare the two.

Btw, i feel like yeah, the no thing is probably worse but how much of a punishment is warranted? An entire year's draft? two first rounders?

And for the record, manning>brady just to fan the flames :p

by qsi :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:36am

Absolutely appalling if all of this is true. As a Bucs fan I remember some incidents with Freeman and Blount in Saints games. Puts things in a different light and changes the quality of my dislike of the Saints. Previously it had been of the sports-rivalry variety, now it runs much deeper.

I am with those who think the NFL will have no option but to come down very hard on the Saints, especially in view of the nagging and persistent long-term health related issues the league already faces. I absolutely love football and want it to stay around, but a wave of injury-related lawsuits could derail the whole thing. I don't think that's probable, but it is possible.

If only as insurance for use in potential future lawsuits the NFL will have to mete out severe penalties to show it takes player health seriously. I think that is the main pragmatic difference between this and spygate.

by PatsFan :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 1:39am

Mark Maske reports the NFL will start an investigation into the alleged Redskins bounty program under Gregggg Williams.

Hope the Rams aren't too attached to their new DC...

by Rabbit :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 8:47am

That is another quandary for the NFL. With Williams new contract being guaranteed and STL having nothing to with his past transgressions, how does Goodell suspend Williams for the 2012-13 season knowing that STL will have to pay him his millions anyway?

I agree that since Williams seems mostly responsible here, he should be suspended for a year. I don't see how that gets done though.

by morganja :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:33pm

For cause. Rams wouldn't owe him a penny.

by raorao (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 1:35pm

IMHO, this is a blessing in disguise for the rams. Williams is a mediocre DC at best, and his "blitz and man-coverage" tactics are a terrible fit for the Rams personell.

On the other side of this, Spagnuolo basically becomes a hero. As long as he doesn't tell his players to kill people, he'll be an improvement over the last guy

by Sick Ducker (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 9:41am

It's the officials' job to flag illegal hits. If the officials don't catch it, then it shouldn't be decided later on that a hit or tackle was illegal and then retroactively fined or punished.

This is a big deal, but everyone calling for multiple-year bannings for coaches and general managers and the loss of draft picks is overreacting and doesn't really understand the situation.

You have two things in play here: one, the money exchanging hands under the table. That's what this should be about and punishment should be issued accordingly. The second is a little more complex. If Williams did coach his players to injure others, you have to go back to the game tape to see it. If the officials didn't call it on the field, you shouldn't be able to say "wait, on closer inspection, this hit from three years ago is illegal." So only the flagged plays and hits should be examined.

Next you have to directly tie those plays back to Williams' coaching. If it can be proven that he told his defense to illegally hit this player on this play, or twist that player's ankle every time he's down, then you might have a case. But I would imagine that would be difficult unless somebody has a video of Williams instructing his players to do that during practice or a meeting. (On an aside, Williams should not have issued that statement claiming full responsibility).

But the real issue is the money, not the "dirty" play (whatever that means). Football is a collision sport and if something isn't deemed illegal on the field during game action, then it shouldn't be deemed illegal after the game is over.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 10:23am

A member of management who undermines the salary cap and CBA with hidden payments, especially, as has been reported, with money supplied by an entity outside of the league, in this case, an agent, has given sufficient reason for banishment, for at least a year, if not lomger.

I think you don't understand the potential liability of a covert program designed to directly pay players to cause injury, in a legal environment where the NFL stands accused in a class-action lawsuit of being at best negligent, and at worst malicious, with regard to suppressing knowledge of the long tern danger of concussions. If you don't think the lawyers suing the NFL see this development as as an arrow in their quiver, I think you are very likely wrong.

by morganja :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:21pm

A bounty paid to injure players is a crime. I'm not sure why people seem to have a hard time grasping this fact. They seem to feel that anything that happens on a football field is governed exclusively by the rules of the NFL.
The courts have given the leagues wide leeway to govern themselves. If the NFL fails to come down hard on these crimes, than they open themselves up to some serious criminal and civil issues, ones which don't have any positive outcomes for themselves and a host of extremely bad outcomes.
Specifically, what we are dealing with here are the crimes of:

2nd degree battery;
criminal negligence.

McCann on cnnsi has a breakdown of the legal implications.

A slap on the wrist, anything short of a real beat-down, opens up the owners to legal and financial risk. If Goodell has shown anything so far, it's his zealous commitment to defending the interests of the owners.

by buddy toledo (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 1:04pm

I will have a problem with the NFL levying a severe penalty for this when Terrell Suggs can admit the Ravens had a bounty on Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall after a game where Ray Lewis did in fact injure Mendenhall. The league's reaction was to send a letter to Suggs about his comments. If the league really wants to crack down on bounties, they should penalize the Saints with something more than a letter but something less severe than ideas being thrown out here. Then the league should work to ensure that it is enforced throughout the league.

But it is the NFL's history to make the PR splash rather than actually care about enforcement. That's why James Harrison got the biggest fine yet levied for a helmet-to-helmet hit the week before the NFL decided to crack down on it. Now, a guy like Patrick Chung can be fined the league minimum repeatedly, but Harrison can be suspended for his first finable infraction of the year.

A big penalty followed by a lack of enforcement or selective enforcement is not a way to "fix" the game; it's a way to make a headline and maintain the status quo.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 5:15pm

I understand what you are saying, but what makes the Saints case different, with what knowledge we have, is the deep and continued participation of management, which ratchets up the legal exposure dramatically. Also, once again, it really beyond the pale to have an outside entity, an agent, involved in subverting the salary cap. If the rest of the owners don't demand that the Saints take one right between the eyes on this, they are being foolish.

by rfh1001 :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 5:32am

The point about the paper trail, and the salary cap things and the tax issues, is not that they make the crime worse than when Suggs and co are operating something informally, it's that they make something that is inherently, obviously, clearly despicable into something despicable with a paper trail that someone can actually deal with.

As many have said, it's very hard to prosecute actions which have been deemed fair and part of a game in front of tens of millions of viewers, many of whom are scrutinising these actions in (supposedly) expert fashion. The legal issues are important because they give the NFL a way to go after these things.

I get that this is horrible for Saints fans (I am a Saints fan), because this kind of activity is clearly not unique, but you don't get off a murder just cos some other guy has been killing people too. It's a bit unlucky, maybe, that the clear paper trail is in New Orleans, but not very unlucky, because the paper trail is almost certainly leading to the most egregious instance.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 9:25am

Exactly. This is intriguing to me (not that you could tell by the number of post I've had in this thread), because the phenomena of otherwise intelligent, very valuable employees,COMPLETELY screwing the pooch, in a way that suggests a sub room temperature IQ, is just, well, fascinating.

by rfh1001 :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 5:34am

[Repeated post deleted.]

by Anonymous123 (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:34pm

all 32 teams in the NFL do this and have for years and years and years.

Surprised so much outrage from people who love to watch football.

I wish the crappy team I root for had a better bounty program, as they got run over every game by even bad teams.

Hows them apples?

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2012 - 8:58pm

And you know this how?

by Ezra (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 4:50pm

If this is all part of the game, then why do they bother with the extra incentives? I'm just astounded that the scab Payton would in any way be involved in something unethical.

by Jerry :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 2:55am

A Buffalo News story about the Bills having a bounty system when Williams coached there. The article quotes Coy Wire about how the bounties went away when Williams left, so maybe "everyone" doesn't do it.

by anon (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 8:03am

They're Saints, which means they're religious in the first place.
There is nothing new or wrong with human sacrifices (it used to be common in many religious groups).
What is troublesome though is the commercialization of religion (priests should live a healthy asexual life and eat mostly salads) and neglecting traditional rituals (like tearing hearts out of ripped chests of their victims).

by Theo :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 10:35am


by Joseph :: Wed, 03/07/2012 - 3:54pm

If anybody actually reads this far, I have my opinion as a long time (~30 yrs) Saints fan.

1. A one year suspension for Gregg Williams, without pay of course, would be quite warranted.

2. Fines and or game-suspensions for Saints players involved would be warranted, depending on their involvement. I would think that, to maintain "competitive balance", that the suspensions for those players still on the Saints should/could be staggered, so as not to lose 6-7 starters for the same games.

3. Loomis might get fined ~$1M, deservedly so.

4. From what I have read in the Times-Picayune (main NOLA newspaper), Coach Payton was unaware of it, or at least did not participate/condone the activity. He may deserve a fine--he's the HC, after all--but not as large of one. If you disagree, remember that Williams operated as if he had the title of HC-Defense (instead of DC) since he came to NO, and there are/were multiple quotes by multiple parties to that effect. Since Payton called the plays until his injury in the TB game last year, this is probably more likely than for an average HC, esp. one who came from the defensive side of the ball. EDIT: Payton was aware, but didn't participate, according to an ESPN article I just read. (Sorry, have been out of the loop from traveling). He will get a fine, but less than Williams, and prob. equal to or less than Loomis.

5. Stripping the team of some draft picks is probably warranted. Stripping them of all picks, as well as the use of the franchise tag, for multiple years would destroy competitive balance. Since the NFL prides itself on the "Any Given Sunday" motto, I don't see this happening. This year's 2nd & 3rd, or next year's 1st & this year's 3rd, okay. Other lower picks removed, IMO, just don't have the same effect.

6. Loss of some salary cap space might be warranted, but why couldn't/shouldn't it be dollar for dollar? Also, this would be a question for the guy who wrote the salary cap articles posted recently--who's to say that they didn't have the cap room in those years? The highest amount I've seen was $50K--were the Saints THAT tight to the cap? I'm going to opine that this won't happen.

7. To whoever mentioned dissolving the franchise--are you completely crazy? The NFLPA would never approve of losing ~60 jobs. Not to mention that every report I've seen excludes owner Tom Benson from guilt, so why should he be punished? In college, they can get rid of a team--but they don't shut the school down. The players can still get an education and attempt to have a career in football. (Not to mention, the NCAA hasn't meted out the "death penalty" since that time.)

To sum up--my guess on the penalties is a 1 yr. or more suspension for Gregg Williams; a big fine for Loomis; a fine for Payton; fines and/or suspensions for the players involved, based on their participation; and the loss of 2 or 3 high draft picks for the Saints. More than the "Spygate" penalties; not a "slap on the wrist"; doesn't destroy competitive balance. Seems to fit all the criteria.