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DeltaBuc5

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: March 05, 2012, 01:42:10 PM

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Bounty scandal has Saints in disarray
By Ashley Fox
ESPN.com


Sean Payton deserves to get fired. Mickey Loomis does, too. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson should strongly consider canning his head coach and general manager for their stupidity and arrogance, if for nothing else.

Having a bounty system that financially rewards players for taking out the opposition is less offensive than the arrogance Loomis and Payton showed in not putting an end to it after the league first investigated the Saints in early 2010. They weren't scared or swayed by the thought of being exposed doing something that violated NFL rules. They let the pay-for-big-plays system remain.

By doing nothing, Payton and Loomis rubber stamped the program and said it was OK to go out there and try to take out someone, be it Brett Favre or Kurt Warner or whomever, with a vicious, even late, hit.

According to the NFL's report, when Benson directed Loomis earlier this season to ensure that any bounty program be discontinued immediately, Loomis did not follow Benson's directions. "Similarly, when the initial allegations were discussed with Mr. Loomis in 2010," the report continued, "he denied any knowledge of a bounty program and pledged he would ensure that no such program was in place. There is no evidence that Mr. Loomis took any effective action to stop these practices."

If the NFL's report is true, Loomis defied a direct order from his owner. That is grounds for dismissal.

And Payton was no better.

In its damning release Friday afternoon, the NFL said Payton "was not a direct participant in the funding or administration of the program," but said "he was aware of the allegations, did not make any detailed inquiry or otherwise seek to learn the facts, and failed to stop the bounty program. He never instructed his assistant coaches or players that a bounty program was improper and could not continue."

And that was stupid.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has made player safety one of his top priorities, and for good reason. Research continues to show more and more players are suffering brain damage as a result of sustaining concussions while playing football. The lawsuits against the NFL, like the wrongful death suit recently brought by the family of Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bear who took his own life last year, will only continue to mount, particularly if Duerson's family wins.

Goodell has gone overboard to legislate against big hits and dirty play by spending the past few seasons levying significant fines on players. You can't hit a defenseless receiver. You can't lead with your head. Ask any defensive player. They will tell you Goodell is trying to change football, and not necessarily for the better. And, most of them will tell you, Goodell's fines have worked.

It is inconceivable, given how big the player safety issue has been, for Payton and Loomis to not recognize the environment change that has occurred in the NFL. Defensive players complain about the fines every week. They appeal. Their appeals usually are denied. And they gripe and complain and voice their displeasure.

So to allegedly institute a bounty system in this era is just lunacy. This isn't the 1980s or 1990s. This is Goodell's era, in which protecting the shield matters. We know about CTE and we know Duerson shot himself specifically in the chest, apparently so doctors could dissect his brain and further the conversation about the dangers of the sport.

To condone a system in which a player is paid $1,500 for a "knockout" shot and $1,000 for a hit that results in a player being carted off the field is the height of arrogance.

The bounty system is bad, but this is football. It is an ugly game. Bad things happen under the piles. Eyes get poked. Body parts get pulled. If you don't want to know, don't look too closely. This game is violent and nasty, and those players who succeed do so through intimidation and fear.

But thinking that the rules don't apply to you, that somehow you are better than the other 31 teams, coaches and front offices, that to me is worse.

That has become a hallmark of the Saints under Payton and Loomis. They've earned the reputation for doing what they want to do. On the Tuesday before their Super Bowl victory, the Saints purposely arrived at media day an hour late. It had never been done. The NFL has an annual day-after Super Bowl news conference with the winning coach and MVP, and Payton had to be strong-armed into going.

Rules are rules, but the Saints too often act as if the rules don't apply to them.

Goodell will bring down the hammer soon enough, and the prevailing feeling is that his punishment will be harsher than the one levied on New England for Spygate in 2007. There, Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000 and Bill Belichick $500,000 and docked the team a first-round draft pick. This could include multiple picks and possible suspensions because the Saints were told to stop and didn't.

That is what makes their offenses so egregious. And that arrogance in thinking the rules don't apply to them and the stupidity in not understanding the NFL's climate in 2012 are why Benson should consider firing his coach and his general manager and starting anew.

Ashley Fox is an NFL columnist. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyMFox.

I'm all for it, 3rd place in the NFCS here we come!

BucfanNC12

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#1 : March 05, 2012, 02:11:35 PM

No.

Edit: Since the hits on B. Farve have been a focal point, I don't recall too many flags being thrown in that game from those hits. The league gave NO that game and the feel good story to go with it.
: March 05, 2012, 02:14:30 PM BucfanNC12

Naismith

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#2 : March 05, 2012, 02:13:19 PM

Whenever I think of Sean Payton, coaching genius, this immediately comes to mind:



:)

There\'s a very real chance the Bucs waive [Revis] before next season. At the very least, it will be a discussion worth having.

britbuc14

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#3 : March 05, 2012, 02:35:13 PM

YES!

this might sound harsh but as the HC he is ultimately culpable. who gets the boot when players underperform?

the same should apply here

Due to the Head Coaching circumstances, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned back on. We appreciate your patience.

Ron Swanson

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#4 : March 05, 2012, 02:42:02 PM

Sean Payton already got a boot last season because the great Albino Jimmy Graham forgot which team he should take out.

\"When I eat it is the food that is scared.\" -R.S.


docbravo

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#5 : March 05, 2012, 02:42:56 PM

As a Bucs Fan: Yes (who wouldn't want to see the Saints in "FULL MELTDOWN MODE!"

As a Fan of the NFL: No (I don't think it's a big of a deal as people are making it out to be.)

Madman

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#6 : March 05, 2012, 02:44:33 PM

Wonder who had the bounty on Payton's knee? Karma is a biatch.

youngone

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#7 : March 05, 2012, 02:49:55 PM

I say yes just bcuz he is the coach for the aints.. but he would get a new job within the hour for more money so what's the point?

ONEBIGDADDY

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#8 : March 05, 2012, 02:55:42 PM

LOL...I can't believe that this is the only team in the NFL that is doing it. I remember when teams had a bounty on Dan Marino's head and people are acting like this is the end of the Saints...My Lord we are desperate for some NFL news. Now if it was the Falcons I say fine them all and fire the Owner. I hate spending any money from Tampa Bay in a Home Depot store. Arthur Blanc you want my money come get some...OBD


gone

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#9 : March 05, 2012, 02:57:25 PM

I say yes just bcuz he is the coach for the aints.. but he would get a new job within the hour for more money so what's the point?

One would assume it would come with a suspension as well.

3rd String Kicker

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#10 : March 05, 2012, 03:00:21 PM

Quote from: Madman
Wonder who had the bounty on Payton's knee?

Good question. I'll bet it was PewterReportAS! He had more than Marco's Pizza riding on the PR pick'em league.


Booker Reese

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#11 : March 05, 2012, 03:05:52 PM

LOL...I can't believe that this is the only team in the NFL that is doing it. I remember when teams had a bounty on Dan Marino's head and people are acting like this is the end of the Saints...My Lord we are desperate for some NFL news. Now if it was the Falcons I say fine them all and fire the Owner. I hate spending any money from Tampa Bay in a Home Depot store. Arthur Blanc you want my money come get some...OBD

That was then, this is now. The league has changed and they've got suits filed that threaten to make it change even more. As crazy as it may sound, the league isn't going to tolerate overt, over-the-top violence, or those that promote it. 

It doesn't matter that they aren't the only one doing it - they are the team with the hand in the cookie jar at exactly the wrong time, and they are going to pay for it. It's no different than guys getting busted for drugs. Nobody thinks those are the only guys doing it - but they are the ones that got caught.

BucfanNC12

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#12 : March 05, 2012, 03:06:03 PM

The comments on this board are down right stupid. I remember my high school football coach putting a bounty on an opposing RB. To think the Saints are the only team who do this practice is foolish. I swear Americans are losing that thing called logic.

sunrisejeff

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#13 : March 05, 2012, 03:08:52 PM

It's not a question on if other teams are doing it. The fact is they were told to put a stop to it and chose to ignore the order. Now they'll face the music.

Madman

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#14 : March 05, 2012, 03:10:28 PM

To think the Saints are the only team who do this practice is foolish.

Doesn't matter, they're the team that got caught. Buddy Ryan had bounties all the time.
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