A little departure from politics for a sad story in the NFL today (sad as in “say it ain’t so!).
The NFL handed down sweeping and unprecedented punishment Wednesday for bounties paid out on big hits, suspending New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton without pay for next season and indefinitely banning the team’s former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who now works for the St. Louis Rams.
Payton is the first head coach suspended by the league for any reason. He is accused of trying to cover up a system of extra cash payouts NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called “particularly unusual and egregious” and “totally unacceptable.”
The league said that in addition to contributing money to the bounty fund, Williams oversaw record-keeping, determined payout amounts and who got cash, and handed out envelopes with money to players. The NFL said Williams acknowledged he intentionally misled NFL investigators when first questioned in 2010, and didn’t try to stop the bounties.
My first thought was, how does this compare to that douche Belichick (or Belicheat) of the cheating Patriots, videotaping opposing team’s defensive coach calling signals …
The discipline for the Saints’ involvement in the bounty scheme is more far-reaching than what Goodell did in 2007, when the NFL came down on the Patriots for illegally videotaping an opponent. Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000, stripped a first-round draft pick, and docked their coach, Bill Belichick, $500,000 for what was known as “Spygate.”
One form of cheating helped the Patriots get an unfair advantage, and the other form helped the Saints … same thing. The Saints bounty program was intended to harm offensive players and potentially end their careers, whereas the Patriots videotaping defensive play calls was intended to beat the defense, possibly ending a player’s career but not necessarily injuring him. Now we’re into a debate about the “level of cheating that’s acceptable”.