The Falcons are about to get some very good news. Their primary competition in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints, are expected to get slapped by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for a “bounty” program by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
We can’t be sure yet what the penalties will be, but the Saints are expected to lose some high draft picks. Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, likely will be suspended for several games, possibly the entire season. Both parties also will get fined — which is sort of like Goodell collecting his own bounty.
My initial thought when I heard about the bounty program actually was not one of surprise, but maybe a little disgust. I don’t condone it. I just don’t believe it’s that uncommon. We celebrate football players for hard hits all the way down to the youth level. So we shouldn’t be surprised that a coach or a player is being rewarded for it — whether it’s a pizza in Pop Warner or $10,000 in the NFL.
I might have more on the New Orleans situation in a blog later. But for now, here’s my question (which I openly admit stealing from my pal, Tim Cowlishaw, of the Dallas Morning News). In your mind, is Williams’ bounty program with the Saints worse than the New England Patriots’ “Spygate” scandal?
Both are a form of cheating. Goodell found the Patriots in violation of league rules for filming the sideline hand signals of the New York Jets in 2007. He fined Bill Belichick $500,000 (the largest fine ever against a coach), the team $250,000 and took away a first-round draft pick.
Bounties are cheating on another level — a dirtier level. If a player feels extra motivation to take a cheapshot at the opposing quarterback because he’ll be rewarded for it — and that quarterback is then carted off the field — the offending team certainly has gained an illegal edge. A case can be made that what Williams and the New Orleans Saints did actually is worse because now we’re not just talking about winning a game, we’re talking about endangering an athlete’s livelihood.
That’s why most believe Goodell will hit the Saints and Williams hard.
What are your thoughts on this? Is “Bountygate” worse than “Spygate,” and do you consider the Saints cheaters?
I’ve also posted a poll on the topic. I look forward to your thoughts on this.
By Jeff Schultz