Bounties wrong and Saints, Vilma and NFLPA just don’t get it

Jonathan Vilma has some free time to admire this.

Jonathan Vilma has some free time to admire this.

(4:10 p.m: Updated and rewritten)

The NFL Players Association needs to re-brand itself, perhaps as the Union of People We Feel Like Representing. Because how is it that a players’ union, whose stated mission includes looking out for the well-being of all its membership …

• Ignores all evidence uncovered in a two-year NFL investigation into a bounty program.

• Ignores the public admission of a former assistant coach, Gregg Williams, who orchestrated and partially funded the program.

• Ignores an audio recording in which Williams is heard instructing his New Orleans defensive players to deliver repeated head blows to the opposing quarterback and running back and then references a specific wide receiver, saying: “He becomes human when we [bleepin’] take out that outside ACL.”

Where’s their union?

The NFL did the right thing again Wednesday. Following the suspensions of coach Sean Payton and other team officials for “Bounty Gate,” commissioner Roger Goodell suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012 season and three other players: defensive end Will Smith (four games), linebacker Scott Fujita (now with Cleveland, three games) and defensive end Anthony Hargrove (now with Green Bay, eight games).

It could’ve been worse. The league initially stated “22 to 27″ players were involved in the bounty program. But Goodell, in his own little bounty program, focused on the Saints leaders who contributed money, demonstrated the greatest intent to participate “and/or obstructed the 2010 investigation.”

The union’s immediate response was indignation. It will appeal. I understand a union has members’ backs. But is Drew Brees’ back more important than everybody else’s? How about the guys targeted to be beheaded? Or is the NFLPA just somehow trying to save face after giving so much back in collective bargaining talks?

The NFLPA released a statement saying it has “not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players’ involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program.”

In legal circles, this is called The Bart Simpson Defense: “I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove anything.”

Former Saint Darren Sharper said he read the NFL security report and saw no “proof” that bounty payments made. I love it when people go all CSI on us.

Fear not, I’m sure video of Williams and Vilma handing out $100 bills will surface because don’t you just know the Saints would want it for bookkeeping purposes?

It's been a while since this photo was taken (left to right): Payton, Goodell, Brees.

Probably won't see this photo again: Payton, Goodell, Brees smiling

Exactly what would the players union and its muddled-brained leader, DeMaurice Smith, say to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was among those targeted for $10,000 bounties by the Saints defense? Rodgers said recently, “I think the line is drawn when people knowingly take money for hits that cause injuries to another player.”

The Saints have now lost their head coach (Payton) for the entire season, their interim head coach (Joe Vitt) for six games, their general manager (Mickey Loomis) for eight games, two of their best defensive players (Vilma and Smith) and a second-round draft pick. Quarterback Drew Brees also remains unsigned and unhappy about being franchise tendered, so there’s a degree of uncertainty about his future.

The Saints will play up the Us-Against-The-World theme. But how can you not look at this and logically conclude that the Falcons have the inside track for the NFC South title?

We’ve addressed this before: Anybody who trivializes the bounty program with comments like, “Everybody does it” (not true) or the NFL loves violence (true, but they don’t love concussions and torn ligaments) is missing the point. There’s a difference between rewarding an athlete for an unscripted play and a premeditated assault.

Payments for “cart-offs” aren’t acceptable. We’re taking about people’s livelihoods. And lives.

There aren’t a lot of people around the NFL who feel sorry for the Saints. Along with the team’s success, New Orleans has been viewed as one the more arrogant organizations for a few years. Nobody wears that crown better than Vilma. He recent demonstrated that by changing the avatar on his Twitter account (@JonVilma51) to the Sports Illustrated cover with his picture and the headline: “Bounty Culture.”

I’m sure that went over well in Goodell’s office.

Clearly, there’s a level of acceptance that hasn’t taken place yet with Vilma or the NFLPA. It’s easy to understand a player who can’t get out of the way of his own ego. But a union that is supposed to be looking out for all doesn’t have that excuse.

By Jeff Schultz

259 comments Add your comment

GDawg

May 2nd, 2012
1:02 pm

GDawg

May 2nd, 2012
1:04 pm

The Stains will crash and burn this season.

Mr Constanza

May 2nd, 2012
1:04 pm

Mr Constanza

May 2nd, 2012
1:05 pm

SERENITYNOW!!!!

saintsation777

May 2nd, 2012
1:05 pm

That is excellent news. Vilma and Smith are both washed up anyway and didn’t play mostly at all last season with bum knees!!! We Saints came away with a great deal finally ridding Smith and Vilma!!! here

Joe Vitt

May 2nd, 2012
1:06 pm

You must be outta your mind. The Falcons suck and still won’t beat the Saints!!!

Tumbledown

May 2nd, 2012
1:08 pm

Caution is most appropriate here. Atlanta teams disappoint us the most when great things are predicted. Atlanta teams have a penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

weaseal

May 2nd, 2012
1:10 pm

Who dat getting suspended now…

Buckeye

May 2nd, 2012
1:10 pm

The Falcons will split with the Saint and Cam’s Panthers win the South. Not what I’m hoping for, just saying.

BigTimeTECHFan

May 2nd, 2012
1:11 pm

Matt Ryan was going to better than Drew Brees anyway

BigTimeTECHFan

May 2nd, 2012
1:11 pm

Brees is master of choke and most overrated QB in football

PMC

May 2nd, 2012
1:12 pm

Yeah after watching the Hawks performance last night with Rondo out. I’m just going to wait and see.

Atlanta sports teams are fantastic at grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory and I’m not expecting the Saints to be that down also I expect Carolina and Tampa to be better too.

I hope Konz fixes the Right Guard program I really do. But no chickens are being counted on this stuff.

Broken Record

May 2nd, 2012
1:13 pm

Yeah, and the Hawks had a slam-dunk victory without the Celtics best player…how’d that work out? Hawks, Falcons and UGA sportswriters/fans have one thing in common…always what they’re GONNA do…yet they NEVER seem to deliver.

Who Dat Nation

May 2nd, 2012
1:16 pm

It doesn’t matter because MATT RYAN still hasn’t won a playoff game with that noodle arm.

Ga./Fl. Stillman Dawg

May 2nd, 2012
1:19 pm

Look sir, lets not forget YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT GEORGIA TEAMS, both professional and college,,,,THEY ARE KNOWN TO DISAPPOINT. EX. 1. UGA; 2. GA. TECH(BOTH LAST SEASON AND SOME; 3. SORRY AZZ BRAVES9THE PAST AND PRESENT0; AND LAST 4. DEM SORRY HAWKS(I CAN’T TYPE THAT LONG ON THEM).. GREAT STATE FULL OF WTF!!!!!!!!!!!! O AND TALENT..

saintsation777

May 2nd, 2012
1:19 pm

Wasn’t Joe Vitt the head coach and Vilma wasn’t playing when my Saints went to Atlanta last year and beat them up for the 9th time in last 11 meetings!!! Will Smith was yet absent in that game too cause he never do anythng but throws temper tantrums. So Idon’t know why ATLANTA writer here is all happy like we Saints got destoryed or hurt to day by today’s news!!!!

shlomo

May 2nd, 2012
1:20 pm

Jeff- you can’t be that stupid. Atlanta teams dont win anything.

Pete Babcock

May 2nd, 2012
1:20 pm

Ok Ok, I hate the Aints as much as anyone but Brees is a stud. To speak otherwise is ignorant. The dude can play, does he play for a terrible franchise, Yes, but he’s still a stud. Give him the props he deserves. Be better than Aints fans who are incapable of being objective.

Sonny Clusters

May 2nd, 2012
1:20 pm

We would like to know what it takes to put somebody out with an oblique injury? What is an oblique and how do you injure it? Did players have obliques before and we just didn’t know about them? Where is the oblique and what kind of doctor do you go to for a bad oblique? Are obliques ever used in sports writing? We was wondering.

Left Coast Dawg

May 2nd, 2012
1:21 pm

@saintsation777 – So now all of a sudden Vilma and Smith are washed up and don’t matter?? Another disillusioned Saints fan.

Left Coast Dawg

May 2nd, 2012
1:23 pm

ditto Sonny Clusters!

Hahahahahahaha

May 2nd, 2012
1:24 pm

Hahahahahahaha who dat not getting paid now

Hurst

May 2nd, 2012
1:26 pm

Yes, this blog will be updated so Jeff can walk back his statement that the Falcons have just clinched the NFC South. Talk about inane comments Jeff.

Larry

May 2nd, 2012
1:27 pm

The suspensions are clearly justified but I’d get much more satisfaction spanking their stinking Cajun fannies at full strength. Winning when you’re supposed to is never as fulfilling.

Who Dat Nation

May 2nd, 2012
1:29 pm

When Matt Ryan wins a playoff game then you Falcon fans can talk but until then what have the falcons won

Delbert D.

May 2nd, 2012
1:31 pm

I rarely prognosticate, but I think that this sordid mess and the criminal charges and investigation will end with Benson selling the team.

Bourbon Street dancer

May 2nd, 2012
1:32 pm

This is so unfare. The NFL wants the big hits and rough play for TV ratings but when the Saints do it, tehy get punished. Of course its typical for you Falcant fans to get excited as this is your only chance to win the NFC south.

Karma

May 2nd, 2012
1:32 pm

S A I N T S N A T I O N ?

W H A T A J O K E

Falcons Rule!!!

May 2nd, 2012
1:38 pm

that’s great news for the ATL!!! With the saints in disarray and vilma out, ATL wins the division easily!!! Mark this down–with the new coaches, ATL makes a deep playoff run in 2012!!!

Bourbon Street dancer

May 2nd, 2012
1:38 pm

FREE JONATHON VILMA!!!!

Bourbon Street dancer

May 2nd, 2012
1:39 pm

HAHAHAHA……No way the Falcants win the South have you forgotten about Cam Newton?

Falcon Jim

May 2nd, 2012
1:39 pm

Of course, Taints fans will come on a Falcons blog and “protest too much.”

Buckeye

May 2nd, 2012
1:41 pm

How about a bounty on Keith Brooking??

reckingball

May 2nd, 2012
1:41 pm

“The discipline handed down by Goodell was harsh but justified.”
It was justified and that is a fact, but it was not enough, the people involved and the organization itself, should have gotten at least, twice as much suspended time from the games, twice as much $$ taken away.
The saints are a bunch of D-bags.

Sid

May 2nd, 2012
1:41 pm

Let me get this straight……………the NFC South only has 2 teams?

Sid

May 2nd, 2012
1:42 pm

Plenty of good whine in the NFC South cellar for Saints fans.

Dumb Dawgs

May 2nd, 2012
1:42 pm

Atlanta, like UGA, can only win when the competition is down and out. Even when the competition is down and out…they still lose.

PMC

May 2nd, 2012
1:43 pm

ha, Vilma is free now. He’s got all the free time in the world.

Larry

May 2nd, 2012
1:44 pm

Delbert D.

Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the corrupt politics and organized crime so prevalent, ignored and well accepted in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans. As a result, this actually will result in higher attendance and popularity thus making them MORE valuable for Benson.

Indeed there are good, solid people in every city, even New Orleans; however the degeneracy and substandard core values there is more pervasive there that anywhere else save possibly a couple of cities in Nevada.

This stuff is right up their alley!

Dumb Dawgs

May 2nd, 2012
1:44 pm

Cam Newton is flashing that multi-million dollar smile right now.

Hillbilly D

May 2nd, 2012
1:46 pm

I still suspect this a case of the caught and the uncaught. The Saints got caught though, so they deserve whatever they get.

It must be May

May 2nd, 2012
1:54 pm

It must be May, because Jeff and the other falcon fans fill they have a shot at a title. Cue Georgia and Braves fans as well. Just give it time people! There will be a different tune come September when all hope has gone. This is Jeff’s equivalent to “ringing the bell”?

Loser!

May 2nd, 2012
1:56 pm

Ddoog33-

really! you actually want to go down that road? I don’t believe anyone on here suffers fools like yourself. Get Lost!

Hahahahahahaha

May 2nd, 2012
1:56 pm

“FREE JONATHON VILMA!!!!” even at that price, nobody wants him.

It must be May

May 2nd, 2012
1:58 pm

typo-
“feel”

Sid

May 2nd, 2012
1:58 pm

Buckeye May 2nd, 2012
1:41 pm
How about a bounty on Keith Brooking??
************************************
Brooking is not even listed on the Cowboys roster. You might want to make sure you word that as a football term.

Judy

May 2nd, 2012
1:58 pm

They are getting what they deserve. But you cannot count them out. There is no sure fire thing for the Falcons. Do not forget the Panthers. I am a Falcon fan but we need to wait and see

gcs

May 2nd, 2012
1:59 pm

@Schultz,
Do you still think Larry Drew deserves a raise?

Bluto

May 2nd, 2012
2:05 pm

Looks like this has become the Taints crying room.

Spot On

May 2nd, 2012
2:07 pm

Tumbledown hit the nail on the head.