The New Orleans Times-Picayune is one of several media outlets pointing out recently that the Saints aren’t the first team to get caught violating the NFL’s bounty rule: The 2007 Packers violated the rule, too.
That violation largely flew under the radar at the time and hasn’t been mentioned often since then, although the NFL did make clear that a violation occurred. A 2007 NFL.com article, headlined, “NFL will not punish Packers players for ‘bounty rule’ violation,” noted that the league didn’t issue any fines, let alone suspensions.
The Packers’ violations included defensive linemen getting $500 from teammates for holding Vikings running back Adrian Peterson under 100 yards in a 34-0 victory over Minnesota. That’s obviously a lot different than Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to any teammate who could knock Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game, and more importantly, as soon as the league spoke with the Packers about it, the Packers stopped it.
“We’ve already addressed it as a football team,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the time. “It’s a dead issue, in my view. There’s been no fines. It’s been resolved with the league, and we have moved on.”
If Saints head coach Sean Payton had addressed bounties with his football team and made sure they were a dead issue as soon as he learned what was going on, he’d still be the Saints’ head coach for the upcoming season.