By comparison, Spygate in 2007 looks like small beans compared to the monster that is now Bountygate. The only coaching that Sean Payton is going to be doing in 2012 is pee-wee football, but he might be joined with an assistant coach as Jonathan Vilma was also suspended for the entire 2012 season for his part in player bounties.
Gregg Williams is probably done with professional football, Mickey Loomis is done for half the year and now possibly being probed by the feds over his part in a wire-tapping and eavesdropping issue and this mess just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Joining the suspended are former Saints Scott Fujita for three games and Anthony Hargrove for eight. Still with the Saints, Will Smith receives four. All players are expected to appeal, but much like Payton, don’t expect much to come out of that. Roger Goodell isn’t playing around and had this to add:
“In assessing player discipline, I focused on players who were in leadership positions with the Saints; contributed a particularly large sum of money toward the program; specifically contributed to a bounty on an opposing player; demonstrated a clear intent to participate in a program that potentially injured opposing players; sought rewards for doing so; and/or obstructed the 2010 investigation. No bounty program can exist without active player participation. The evidence clearly showed that the players being held accountable today willingly and enthusiastically embraced the bounty program. Players put the vast majority of the money into this program and they share responsibility for playing by the rules and protecting each other within those rules.”
With the Commissioner swinging the banhammer so loftily, don’t expect any reduced sentences. Also, don’t be surprised if he still isn’t done.
This wipes out any positive vibes the organization was getting with some minor success in free agency and the draft. Yes, they still have Drew Brees, but there is only so much pounding one team can take before this all starts to take its toll. All three teams in the AFC South improved over the break as well and they won’t be missing any key players when they face them this fall.
Vilma is the defensive rock for this team and him sitting on his sofa at home all year is devastating. Adding Curtis Lofton was nice, but he isn’t a replacement for what Vilma brings to the leadership department. Will Smith is the enforcer and best pass rusher the team has. This is painful.
With some now publicly voicing their opinion that the Patriots and Saints should have asterisks by their championships, you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. But to these criticisms I also have to say that you should win one before you try to trash others teams titles, Harbaugh.
In the end, Bountygate was despicable and I’m glad this is happening. If the players in this league can’t be kept healthy, the overall entertainment goes down when we have third string quarterbacks and backups playing because defenders are getting paid to take them out. I just can’t get behind that and, even though I’ve been critical of his punishments in the past, Goodell is doing it right this time.