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Why didn’t the NFL discover the Saints bounty program in 2010?

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Lost in the NFL’s strong reaction to the discovery of a three-year bounty system in New Orleans is the fact that the league initially investigated allegations of a cash-for-cripplings program in 2010, after the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.

Nothing was found.  But how hard did the league really look?

The March 2 confidential report from NFL Security claims that the league’s in-house police force “conducted detailed interviews” of Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Saints assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt, and Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and that they each “categorically denied” any knowledge of a bounty program.

So how detailed was the questioning?  And how hot was the light that was applied to the witnesses?

If the men were grilled, they’re each great liars — or the members of NFL Security assigned to the case are crappy investigators.  If Williams, Vitt, and Hargrove were faced instead with perfunctory “Is there a bounty system?”-type questions, there would have been no way to spot the kind of subtle inconsistencies or “tells” that would pluck at the instincts of the former law-enforcement personnel who end up working for NFL Security.

My own instincts suggest it’s the latter, and that the NFL simply didn’t want to uncover in the weeks after Super Bowl XLIV evidence that would have called into question the validity of the Saints’ Super Bowl-winning season.  Supporting this conclusion is the fact that NFL Security interviewed only Williams, Vitt, and Hargrove.  Why not interview head coach Sean Payton?  Why not interview the rest of the defensive staff?  Why not interview extensively every player from the team’s defense, using the various tricks of the trade aimed at manipulating the weak minded in order to get to the truth?  Why not review emails and other potentially relevant records?

There was plenty of evidence to suspect that something was amiss.  In the bye week before Super Bowl XLIV, Williams brazenly suggested that the Saints didn’t care about taking a 15-yard penalty if it meant knocking Colts quarterback Peyton Manning out of the game.

“When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out,” Williams said.  “If it happens, it happens.  And the only thing you’d like for me to say is that if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again.”  (Williams’ words prompted Payton to serve the defensive coordinator peanut butter, crackers, and sand in the days preceding Super Bowl XLIV.)

Williams’ comments about Manning should have been enough to prompt a zealous investigator to request from the Saints a copy of a transcript of every 2009 media session from Williams.  If such a request had been made, the investigators would have seen this troubling remark from Williams regarding the plan for defending Panthers receiver Steve Smith:  “The thing that I think he does is the best is that for a little guy, when the ball goes up in the air, he plays like a 6-10 center; he goes and gets it.  What you have to do is to turn his little body over so that when he does get it, he lands on his head and he doesn’t come back in for a while.”

The mere existence of such a nonchalant attitude toward inflicting injury as a means for achieving strategic objectives should have been enough to trigger a scorched-earth investigation in 2010, months before someone blew the whistle and forced the NFL to be far more aggressive.

The two possible explanations for the failure to engage in a more thorough investigation in 2010 are:  (1) incompetence; and (2) a deliberate reluctance to publicly identify one of the 32 franchises as being a cheater.

We’ve seen it many times when it comes to tampering.  The league looks the other way, either because the league doesn’t want to create the impression that teams are cheating — or because the league office doesn’t want to alienate any of the franchises who ultimately determine who does, and who doesn’t, work at the league office.

In this case, it can be argued that the NFL came down extra hard on the Saints now not because they had a bounty system for three years but because the NFL gave them an opening to get away with one year of it, and the Saints were too stupid and/or arrogant to realize that they should stop.

Regardless, if the Saints had merely stopped doing it after the NFL showed up and gave short shrift to the investigation in 2010, no one would have ever known the difference and the NFL wouldn’t be dealing with a major blow to its image and the league now wouldn’t be forced to determine how deep it wants to dig into the rabbit hole and Congress wouldn’t be poised to do the digging for the league.

So it’s fair to conclude that the league didn’t want to discovery the bounty system in 2010.  And that the league hoped that the Saints were smart enough to stop.

After all, the punishment ultimately dispensed could end up hurting the league a lot more than it ever hurts the Saints.

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103 Responses to “Why didn’t the NFL discover the Saints bounty program in 2010?”
  1. cardmagnet says: Mar 25, 2012 8:55 PM

    Maybe the league didn’t think it was a good business decision to have their defending champions clad in scandal, causing the league to lose millions in revenue.

  2. eaglesnoles05 says: Mar 25, 2012 8:57 PM

    Cuz everyone did a better job shutting up back then, I’d guess.

  3. jebdamone says: Mar 25, 2012 8:59 PM

    been saying this all along. all any reasonable person had to do was watch the games and listen to remarks from Williams, his players and his staff to know that something like this was going on. thats why, to me, the fact that the NFL is making such a big deal of it at this juncture is a farce on their part.

  4. jebdamone says: Mar 25, 2012 8:59 PM

    thats not to say that there shouldn’t have been hardcore repercussion for this type of thing. they just should have taken place years ago.

  5. seanmmartin says: Mar 25, 2012 9:00 PM

    It’s proportioned with how much the media cares, unfortunately.

  6. redguy12588 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:02 PM

    You suggested incompetence. That’s probably the case.

  7. cali49er707 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:03 PM

    the league needed some time for the post katrina aftermath to settle before they stepped in and ended AINTS fans disney like seasons!!!!

  8. drunkenjunk says: Mar 25, 2012 9:04 PM

    this isn’t cheating, get over it.

  9. frostbelt says: Mar 25, 2012 9:04 PM

    They waited until the year the Superbowl was in New Orleans!

  10. couchfandotcom says: Mar 25, 2012 9:04 PM

    This happens amongst players on all 32 teams, the difference here is how involved the coaching staff is/was….

    Williams will get a job at a D2 College program and never seen again… Payton is most likely destined for the media set.

  11. twodat says: Mar 25, 2012 9:07 PM

    we realize the author has an agenda and is a life long vikings fan it is apparent to all including other members of the media perhaps it would be wise to stop before all legitimacy is lost

  12. ascensionparish says: Mar 25, 2012 9:07 PM

    I got half-way through this article before I stopped caring completely.

  13. mrpaulzeen says: Mar 25, 2012 9:07 PM

    Need some page views? Type up an article making the NFL look like the bad guy.

  14. busterdog1 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:08 PM

    Why don’t you guy’s just let it go, now it’s cash-for-cripplings, bounty’s what is football if they
    don’t go for the quarter back.

  15. philwauke says: Mar 25, 2012 9:10 PM

    it wasn’t discovered until the league was sued by the ex players. Coincidence?

  16. jimmysee says: Mar 25, 2012 9:10 PM

    As soon as I saw the photo of Inspector Clouseau, I knew who was the author of this item.

    Well done. A picture is worth 1,000 words!

  17. steelernationsparksjealousy says: Mar 25, 2012 9:10 PM

    I only have on thing to say: 6 rings. Jealous?

  18. eballa1 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:11 PM

    B/c the league wasn’t as ready to turn into the National Flagfootball League like it is now. Three years ago, Gregg Williams’ talk was simply taken as “this is pro football.” Now the league is more concerned for player safety and lawsuits.

  19. ole says: Mar 25, 2012 9:12 PM

    the comment “It’s proportioned with how much the media cares” is right on the money

    The networks would have a hard time marketing a tainted product, so they choose to ignore the bounty scandal

  20. dkeyser says: Mar 25, 2012 9:13 PM

    The punishment has been handed out, so why continue to beat this horse?

  21. tremoluxman says: Mar 25, 2012 9:18 PM

    Another point is that the Saints were the darlings of the sports press and the NFL because of the Katrina situation. Nobody in the NFL wanted to crap in that Easter basket. Oh, the Saints meant so much to poor New Orleans and all that baloney. You think the NFL was going to do anything to sully that story line? No way. The NFL and the officials looked the other way until after the Super Bowl.

    Why is there no investigation into why the officials ate their whistles and kept the rags in their pockets on play after play? The oversights were blatant and repeated. All we hear is crickets.

  22. kingfish4242 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:19 PM

    seanmmartin says:
    Mar 25, 2012 9:00 PM
    It’s proportioned with how much the media cares, unfortunately.

    Yep,been saying this since the beginning. I’m a Saints fan and felt the penalties were just.

    The reason Goodell said God Forbid if this is true was he really didn’t want to go into that “rabbit hole”. These types of bounty systems have been in existence since the 1950’s and that’s not the image Goodell wants to project now.

    The NFL has a very dark side and it’s in the leagues interest to keep those things under wraps. I don’t know if they can now. The proverbial Pandoras Box may now be opened.

  23. ubummer says: Mar 25, 2012 9:19 PM

    The media keeps letting the NFL off the hook. The real scandal in the entire bountygate fiasco is the fact that no bounty system could be successful unless the game referees, directed by the league itself, swallowed their whistles and did NOT call the shots the Saints were delivering.

    If the Saints were delivering illegal hits for WHATEVER reason, the penalties should have been called. But the league is doing its best to cover up that fact, and the media is letting them get away with it.

  24. cali49er707 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:19 PM

    steelernationsparksjealousy says:
    Mar 25, 2012 9:10 PM
    I only have on thing to say: 6 rings. Jealous?

    we maybe jealous of your rings but were definitely not jealous of your spelling!!!!

  25. richkotite says: Mar 25, 2012 9:20 PM

    Mike, you’re correct that the league initially didn’t dig too hard, but then later was confronted with evidence it couldn’t ignore. The League has to protect itself from the biggest external threat it has ever faced–liability from player injury lawsuits. Every action they take is meant to aggressively defend against future litigation . Once you view things through that lens, everything they do is predictable.

  26. jackntorres says: Mar 25, 2012 9:21 PM

    If this is cheating then Spygate was the second Cold War.

  27. deadeye says: Mar 25, 2012 9:27 PM

    There is no doubt that the NFL wants to clean up things like this without undermining the validity of the outcomes of regular season and playoff games. Obviously that’s complicated, and as this article suggests, it does require the league to “look the other way” when it would do irreparable harm to the NFL shield.

    The thing that will never be discussed openly is referee manipulation of outcomes through bad calls or no calls. This happens so often it’s comical that average fans can’t see through it. It’s always chalked up to an honest mistake, as if NFL referees are somehow above corruption when every other single aspect of our society is easily corruptible. People see what they want to see, and this aids the NFL in keeping the league alive as it tries to tackle these huge issues.

  28. rubberinnertube says: Mar 25, 2012 9:28 PM

    ascensionparish

    Yet you felt compelled to comment?

  29. stairwayto7 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:28 PM

    Hurricane Katrina and marketing ateam winning the Super Bowl make Goodell keep this quiet! If not hurricane or Super Bowl this would have come out years ago!

  30. chatham10 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:28 PM

    The big mistake by the NFL was not hiring you guys and some additional insiders from ESPN as it seems you guys have all the answers.

  31. nflfollower says: Mar 25, 2012 9:30 PM

    Williams said the same exact thing this season before the first round of the playoffs—–saying that they couldn’t compete with megatron at the high point for the football, but that they could make sure he lands on his head and pays the price for going up for the ball. I thought it was borderline. Looking back, I didn’t realize just how shady this guy is.

  32. superdomehunters says: Mar 25, 2012 9:30 PM

    Cause it wasn’t the action that deserved the punishment, it was the cover up that enraged GODdell to strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.

  33. mafiamet13 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:30 PM

    This sharade that the commissioner is appalled that a team would have a bounty system and that he had no clue this type of behavior was going on in “his” league is as big a joke as MLB being so shocked that there were players using steroids!

    The punishment is just as big of a joke. I get it, they got caught and they should be punished, no doubt. But a year long suspension for the HC? Gregg Williams should have received 8 games to a year, maybe…Sean Payton maybe 4 – 6 games max….Any players involved 1 game….

    I know everyone brings it up, but SPYGATE was blatant cheating and the Pats were hardly touched…

    Goodell is a joke and he is ruining the NFL…Too big an ego to be in his postion…

    That is all..

  34. sdisme says: Mar 25, 2012 9:32 PM

    It cheating if it is against the rules. Spinnning Steve Smith on his head is not against the rules.

  35. aljack88 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:33 PM

    steelernationsparksjealousy says:
    Mar 25, 2012 9:10 PM
    I only have on thing to say: 6 rings. Jealous?
    ———————————————————-
    Not in the least. Go play the ponies.

  36. bengarciareyes says: Mar 25, 2012 9:35 PM

    You can always tell when it’s a saint Fan’s comment on here. And all those FOOLS that keep bringing up rings. YOU don’t win, earn any, or have ANY rings (yeah me neither) Effin loosers.

  37. jackers252 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:58 PM

    Again, this just helps prove my point that the league didn’t give a damn about player safety or they would have investigated ALL the teams instead of just one. We have seen recently that the Giants, Redskins, Bills, Ravens, Panthers, Titans, and Packers all RECENTLY had bounty programs yet no investigation from the NFL. Not so much as fines!

    The only reason this is a big deal now is because the NFL is mad about being lied to and are using this “player safety” angle to incite the fans and play on the heart strings of the media.

    Again, Pandora’s Box is hard to close, isn’t it?

  38. thenewarkeight says: Mar 25, 2012 10:00 PM

    Please Stop. All the people that I have spoken with, albeit a small sample, are tired of this topic, nor is anyone surprised. Its news that defensive players try to hurt offensive players??? C’mon, be real. Only the eternally clueless would be surprised by this. The money is chump change to these guys anyway. I don’t condone this bounty system either, but the media “outrage” is obviously artificial, too. They knew it was going on because the NFL knew it was going on. They just lacked proof. Now they have proof and everybody is shocked??? What a joke. Again, please stop with this story, its boring. Full disclosure, I dislike the Saints also.

  39. jameslongstaffe says: Mar 25, 2012 10:03 PM

    Interesting… it is possible the league did not investigate far enough. Perhaps, they have been suspicious all along, & judging by Gregg Williams quotes, they should have been. But people were lying, & players were being treated like animals. Gregg Williams should be ashamed of his behaviour, because it was not his body at risk. He just wants to win, & he has his millions $$$… I would like Gregg Williams to go visit a quadriplegic in hospital, & then tell me it is OK to have those thoughts. Play the game as hard as you can, but there is NO excuse for attempting to injure.

  40. wrathofgodzilla says: Mar 25, 2012 10:06 PM

    I heard a commentator talk about how Williams rewarded his players for turnovers and big hits on the way to the Saints super bowl. If commentators new about that, did they think they hung out gold stars?

  41. bigbadal21 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:07 PM

    They did discover it. They were glad the team denied it. They wanted no part of a scandel. What infuriated them was that when they told them to stop they did not.

  42. dkeyser says: Mar 25, 2012 10:12 PM

    Can somebody please explain to me how the NFL handed the Saints a Super Bowl victory 4 YEARS AFTER KATRINA?????.. I seem to be seeing that a bunch on here and cant for the life of me figure out why. The hurricane was in 2005 and the Saints went to the NFC championship game in 2006.. Why not “give” them the title then? Why wait till 2009?.. Why not “give” the Giants or Jets the 2001 title?.. Ohh i know why, its because people who think that are complete idiots..God forbid any of you morons reproduce..

  43. spliffbunker says: Mar 25, 2012 10:15 PM

    I may have missed it but I havent seen the answer to an obvious question nor have I seen it asked..

    PFT reported Williams laying out $15000 to have Brad Johnson knocked out opening night 2006

    where is this money coming from ??

    I find it hard to believe that this kind of cash would come out of Gregg Williams own pocket…

  44. captaintriumph says: Mar 25, 2012 10:16 PM

    OBVIOUSLY the NFL was in on it. The NFL wanted the Saints to win the Super Bowl. Failing franchise, Katrina, all that. All you need to do is check the officiating in the NFCC game, especially overtime. The NFL Network won’t even replay it.

  45. wrathofgodzilla says: Mar 25, 2012 10:17 PM

    *handed out not hung out

  46. andyreidisfat says: Mar 25, 2012 10:17 PM

    Lol somebody has been watching way to many tv shows.

    See these men didnt need “stories” or alibi’s. All they needed to do was say I don’t know what your talking about. That’s it.

    Without a whistle blower this is an impossible case to make. Seriously arn’t you a lawyer ?

  47. cares5x says: Mar 25, 2012 10:19 PM

    A handful of teams had bounty systems in place, just like a handful of teams had recordings of signals, and I can guarantee as we speak there is something else that is frowned upon going on in the league that teams are doing, just don’t be the ones that get caught!!

  48. n001363 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:23 PM

    The next thing to investigate is why the ” refs swallowed their whistles, and stuffed the flags in their pocket” ! It’s time for Congress to step in. NOW!!! Then maybe we can bring this crooked league to their knees.

  49. timsmooth says: Mar 25, 2012 10:24 PM

    Man the NFL will be “soft”. Guys can’t talk tough or play tough with out the league calling ALL defensive plays “bounties”. The days of hard nose tough football players is over get ready for the sissies. I happened to like the quote from Greg Williams, hell if the QB can sit in the pocket he’ll pick u apart! Even Tim Tebow will do it! Youre supposed to pressure him rattle him how the hell else youre gonna stop top tier QBs?!!!! Man I think I’m gonna be a tennis fan. “F” football & thanks GODell!

  50. sizvampire55 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:25 PM

    How come the Pats’ spygate scandal just got brushed under the rug? I understand this scandal involves player safety, which I support, but if people are going to make a stink about “cheating” shouldn’t the spygate scandal be reopened for and punished equally as the Saints?

  51. brunmeister2011 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:28 PM

    I think if I were Drew Brees, I’d wonder if it might be healthy for me to play for another team. You don’t need a bounty system for some DE or LB to take it upon himself to issue a little justice. Since the Saints were out for real blood, should they be surprised if someone deals them the same card? Williams ought to be banned from the NFL for life and any player caught lying about this mess should miss at least a year. They need a rebuild.

  52. benchmcnabb says: Mar 25, 2012 10:28 PM

    I remember the looks on those Refs faces in overtime against the Vikings. They were very concered they would make it out of New Orleans alive if they ruled against the Saints. Also about every third fan who was holding a Katrina sign.

  53. stairwayto7 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:30 PM

    Will Goodell now look into the Ravens for bounty hunting? Suggs already sais they had a bounty on Mendenhall 2 years ago when they broke his shoulder and also one on Ward but could not get him! SUSPEND THESE RAVENS PLAYERS NOW GOODELL!!!

  54. vmannj says: Mar 25, 2012 10:33 PM

    The question I have for the NFL is…why is Warren Sapp still employed? How many of us would get away with violating FEDERAL LAW while we were on the job?

    Fire Warren Sapp NOW…thumbs up

  55. raiderapologist says: Mar 25, 2012 10:33 PM

    steelernationsparksjealousy says: Mar 25, 2012 9:10 PM

    I only have on thing to say: 6 rings. Jealous?

    It’s true. He does have just that one thing to say. It would be sad if anyone cared, but nobody does.

    Is there a body count associated with this bounty program? A net result, if you will?

  56. sdisme says: Mar 25, 2012 10:34 PM

    Sean Payton got railroaded and 31 other coaches should be taking note.

    And fans of other teams that think I’m wrong should turn their “fanness” off for a second an realize that there coach could be suspended for a year for ” failure to have institutional control”

  57. tduhe1 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:35 PM

    How many players were actually injured, or had their careers shortened by an illegal hit from a Saints player? I’m not being a smart ass here – I’d seriously like to know from anyone who knows. And please don’t count Favre and Warner. They were on their way out anyway.

  58. srmainsworth says: Mar 25, 2012 10:37 PM

    “The thing that I think he does is the best is that for a little guy, when the ball goes up in the air, he plays like a 6-10 center; he goes and gets it. What you have to do is to turn his little body over so that when he does get it, he lands on his head and he doesn’t come back in for a while.”

    Whilst I don’t condone the bounty system and I think the strong punishments are warranted, I feel that quote from Williams makes perfect sense. What is he supposed to say? “When a guy goes up for the ball you must cradle him back down to earth to ensure he completes the catch”?

  59. sdisme says: Mar 25, 2012 10:40 PM

    To follow up:

    Sean Payton was not suspended for a year because he allowed bounties.

    Sean Payton was suspended for a year because he actions stopping the bounties were not strong enough.

    To place his asst. head coach in charge of controlling Gregg Williams and to tell Greg & Vitt to get their duck in order was simply not enough for the NFL.

    I guess he should have said get your duck in f’ing order. Maybe that would have been strong enough for the league?

  60. freedomispopular says: Mar 25, 2012 10:41 PM

    Because Goodell doesn’t actually give a crap about player safety. He’s more concerned about the NFL’s image and his own reputation.

  61. kingfish4242 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:43 PM

    thenewarkeight says:
    Mar 25, 2012 10:00 PM
    Please Stop. All the people that I have spoken with, albeit a small sample, are tired of this topic, nor is anyone surprised. Its news that defensive players try to hurt offensive players??? C’mon, be real. Only the eternally clueless would be surprised by this. The money is chump change to these guys anyway. I don’t condone this bounty system either, but the media “outrage” is obviously artificial, too. They knew it was going on because the NFL knew it was going on. They just lacked proof. Now they have proof and everybody is shocked??? What a joke. Again, please stop with this story, its boring. Full disclosure, I dislike the Saints also.

    Thank You. Common sense is finally taking over!!
    I don’t think the story is going away though. The Saints were just the tip of a very big iceberg

  62. sdisme says: Mar 25, 2012 10:46 PM

    tduhe1 says:
    Mar 25, 2012 10:35 PM
    How many players were actually injured, or had their careers shortened by an illegal hit from a Saints player?

    According to the “bounty progam” that the NFL stated the Saints had, the players would have lost money for an illegal hit.

    They wold have paid money instead of collecting money for a penalty.

  63. sfsaintsfan says: Mar 25, 2012 10:48 PM

    Facts just keep getting in the way of this “story” now don’t they?

    Nineteen teams were fined either more times or for more money than the Saints in 2009. Where is the NFL investigation of these teams?

    Eleven teams were fined either more times or for more money than the Saints in 2010. Where is the NFL investigation of these teams?

    If the Saints were “intentionally trying to injure players” why were they fined so little by the league for allegedly trying to do so over the years? The NFL reviews EVERY play from EVERY game.

  64. dicecoldsr says: Mar 25, 2012 10:49 PM

    ALL I CAN SAY IS “MOVE THE SAINTS TO L.A.”

  65. numba1dunna says: Mar 25, 2012 10:52 PM

    “Why not interview extensively every player from the team’s defense, using the various tricks of the trade aimed at manipulating the weak minded in order to get to the truth?”

    —————————————————

    that is a warped way to look at any investigation, if you are manipulating someones weak mind are you setting up to gain the truth, or to hear what you want to hear? The truth shouldn’t require any form of manipulation, it should require investigators doing their due diligence and solving the case. I agree they weren’t thorough enough, but your a bit of an idiot to say that…

  66. drlove says: Mar 25, 2012 10:56 PM

    Please show me any of the “James Harrison” style blows to the head…the late cheap shots…anything!… over the last 3 yrs that exemplifies the carnage and maliciousness that the Saints are accused of.

    Where are the carted-off injuries, and careers being ended, or people being put on IR? The penalties? The fines? Show me evidence of all the egregiously barbaric acts. In regards to the ’09 NFC championship game, any teams’ strategy, every game, was to hit Brett Favre that year. And he played the next year after that.

    There’s more violence in a Ravens v. Steelers game. Their defense has been ranked 26th in the league and below since Williams got there.

  67. ejmat2 says: Mar 25, 2012 10:59 PM

    After this investigation is all over then it’s time to investigate the refs. Oh yeah, after that is Goodell himself should be investigated.

  68. westclaims says: Mar 25, 2012 11:02 PM

    The post Katrina period had to be slanted in their favor. Had to keep it quiet until now.

  69. rogerbrad says: Mar 25, 2012 11:04 PM

    The saints super bowl win is tarnished like Barry Bonds home run record

  70. nolarhode says: Mar 25, 2012 11:09 PM

    The system was wrong. The coverup was stupid. But, stop with the ridiculous implication that this somehow meant the championship was stolen. Do you think for one second that the Saints D would have treated Favre any differently with or without the cash????

  71. genericuser8888 says: Mar 25, 2012 11:19 PM

    What’s the mystery here? Haven’t several teams (Packers, Redskins, Titans, Ravens, and more) already admitted that they had bounty programs in the past? A simple google search of any one of teams and “bounty program” turns up plenty of results. We’ve even seen some comments from players here on PFT about bounty programs at other teams.

    There is no mystery. The NFL DID NOT WANT to find a bounty program. In the past, when they did, it barely made headlines and the teams were not punished AT ALL. They were simply told to stop, and the coaches said “ok, we did!” (whether they really did or not, no one knows).

    The Saints situation is worse for a variety of reasons, but the NFL CLEARLY did not want to find a bounty program and spent a few years hoping it would “just stop” after a few warnings as those in the past had. With four or five other teams getting no punishments at all for their bounty programs, is it any wonder that the Saints weren’t too worried about getting caught?

    Simply put, the NFL created an air of safety, where teams felt “ok” doing a bounty program. After all, when multiple teams have bounty programs and no one ever got punished at all…even if they did admit it…it doesn’t change the fact that such programs appeared commonplace in the league, and that the league did relatively little to discourage them from popping up again.

    Greg Williams was just a little worse than everyone else about bragging about “remember me” hits, so the Saints are now the whipping boy to be made an example of.

  72. genericuser8888 says: Mar 25, 2012 11:23 PM

    I forgot one last thing.

    By punishing the Saints, the league sets up a strong argument that it cares about player safety and can push toward an 18 game season.

    However, as an unintended consequence, the talk of bounty programs by retired players, as well as players currently playing, demonstrates that for many, many years the league did not find “bounty programs” worthy of punishment so long as the teams promised to stop. It now seems that the programs were rampant, although not as bad as the Saints program was. I’d think that the new evidence of how common these programs were would hurt the NFL’s defense in the class action suit by retired players.

    The lesson here? — The revenue from two more games a season will far outweigh the cost of settling a class action lawsuit from the old players.

  73. mrpilsner says: Mar 25, 2012 11:25 PM

    @ascensionparish

    South Oak Park?

    kate’s

  74. nowillrepeat says: Mar 25, 2012 11:29 PM

    Goddell made this personal instead of thinking of all the lose ends.

    He has waged a war with one of his fan bases/ owners (actually 3) and rendered one of his teams non competitive. This contradicts competitive balance.

    He must be removed (dont think he wont come after you!).

  75. zn0rseman says: Mar 25, 2012 11:35 PM

    That easy, an everyone knows why. The answer is likely the same as why NFL officials allowed the Saints to get away with so many illegal hits. It’s the same reason the NFL officials Valle bad penalties against Saints opponents, helping them get to the Super Bowl. (See Ben Leber pass interference call in OT of the NFC Championship where Leber never even came in contact with the receiver.). It’s the same reason that the Saints offense had to only get 9 yards for a first down, and why their 2009 schedule was so easy.

    The NFL wanted a Saints Super Bowl victory as a result of the Katrina disaster.

  76. slippyal2 says: Mar 25, 2012 11:36 PM

    I look at the positives from this bountygate, the other 31 teams move up a draft selection 2 years in a row.

  77. jessethegreat says: Mar 25, 2012 11:44 PM

    Because a good part of the nation still had a bit of pitty for the region back then?

    Because there wasn’t a scorned former Saint’s player threatening to spill the beans to the media back then?

    Because the NFL hadn’t realized how poorly it looked for allowing the city of New Orleans a sham championship yet?

    I give up.

  78. LoCoSu@%s says: Mar 25, 2012 11:45 PM

    Mr knee jerk Goodell. Doesnt believe in proactive action.
    But…. great at dropping the hammer arbirtrarily when called for.
    Not a Saints or Cowboys or Redskins fan, but the antics of Roger the dodger make me fear for the future of the NFL.

  79. msstiller58 says: Mar 25, 2012 11:51 PM

    Inspector, all they had to do was ask themselves how the Saints were winning. They should had looked away from James Harrison long enough…

  80. cliffordc05 says: Mar 25, 2012 11:52 PM

    It is quite possible that the league had every reason to believe that there was a system of bounties put on offensive players. The old time culture of the NFL probably looked upon such behavior as marginally acceptable. The investigation and warning that such conduct would not be tolerated should have been taken seriously by the Saints. It was not. At some point the league officials must have become frustrated with the pending lawsuits by former players and one of their premier teams not just covering up their previous activity but actively continuing the practice.

    This is particularly disgusting when you look at the condition of Steve Gleason. You just have to ask yourself what the hell were Williams and the Saints thinking.

  81. gb4mn0 says: Mar 25, 2012 11:55 PM

    The reason the league didn’t discover it is simple, they didn’t try too. They knew the cry baby vikequeefs were the team most affected and the league just like everyone else could care less. Oh there’s a handful of jealous, silly gender bending Helga hat wearers who would put up a fuss. After all, they’ve only won 9 games in 2 seasons and they’re practically homeless so they should be concerned about more important things than the myth of them having a Lombardi stolen from them.

  82. msstiller58 says: Mar 26, 2012 12:03 AM

    As lovers of the game, we should all be sick that congress wants to take a look at it. Any one who has whined about hard hits, remember you did this to yourself.

  83. odium45 says: Mar 26, 2012 12:09 AM

    cali49er707 says: Mar 25, 2012 9:03 PM

    the league needed some time for the post katrina aftermath to settle before they stepped in and ended AINTS fans disney like seasons!!!!

    tremoluxman says: Mar 25, 2012 9:18 PM

    Another point is that the Saints were the darlings of the sports press and the NFL because of the Katrina situation. Nobody in the NFL wanted to crap in that Easter basket. Oh, the Saints meant so much to poor New Orleans and all that baloney. You think the NFL was going to do anything to sully that story line? No way. The NFL and the officials looked the other way until after the Super Bowl.

    Why is there no investigation into why the officials ate their whistles and kept the rags in their pockets on play after play? The oversights were blatant and repeated. All we hear is crickets.

    Seriously these two guys are completely irritating, and are the kind who when watching the news see something horrible happen just go “well they deserved it.” I seriously hope nothing horrible happens to them or their communities, because if it does I would be more then happy to be there to help. I might not root for your team. I might not hope that your team wins against mine, but I would be damn sure to do everything I could to make sure you and yours where ok. I would never relate such a terrible tragedy and my dislike for your team together. I would just simple do what I could to help. As a Black and Gold Fan I wish the best to you. As someone who went through Katrina I truly hope you never have to. But in the end our ring is forever. FREE JUICY FRUIT!!!!

  84. fusion3450 says: Mar 26, 2012 12:09 AM

    u people need to just get over the katrina crap

  85. dubblelznhell says: Mar 26, 2012 12:18 AM

    Manning may be learning a new offense but once he digests that playbook, he’ll be running it on the field without much input from the OC. Just like in Indianapolis, he’ll make it his own cab to drive.

  86. redskinsrt says: Mar 26, 2012 12:26 AM

    End of the cba perhaps?

  87. cuffhimbanano says: Mar 26, 2012 12:41 AM

    Mike Vick can tell you why the league didn’t discover wrong doing the first time.

  88. matthewcarlson1 says: Mar 26, 2012 12:49 AM

    Its really long.. but read it.

    My theory on this is that the 2009 season was scripted. The NFL saw that the Saints were in the playoffs and they decided that it would make a great storyline because of the hurricane. So all in the name of money they did everything they could to make sure the Saints won it all. If you watched the NFC champ game you can clearly tell that the refs were ignoring penalties. 40 year old Brett Favre got the tar kicked out of him in an age where the QB’s protection is top priority. If it was Brees that was getting attacked then the NFL would have stopped it. They new it was likely that it was Favre’s last season, so he wouldn’t be making them money next year, so he wasn’t worth protecting. Don’t say that Favre being injured didn’t affect the game because it obviously did. I’m not saying that the Vikings didn’t have a bad game but the team was so much better than the Saints that they overcame turnovers and bad refereeing and still almost won. I watched every Vikings game all season and that champ game looked fixed. How could a team that was so good play that bad? It was like a horror movie. The NFL was going to completely let the Saints go until they found out that they were still doing the bounty program after they were told to stop. I think there is more to this story then they’re telling people.

  89. saintcasey says: Mar 26, 2012 12:53 AM

    I am so tired of this. Everyone needs to really think this through. Unless you have NEVER cheered a big, snot-knocking hit….you should really shut up. The NFL was built on these bone-jarring hits. They made highlight videos of them and sold them to us. We have all jumped off our couch when our team made one of them on the opposing team. “Bounties” have been a part of the NFL for decades. Why all the outrage? Where’s the proof that the Saints actually injured someone? To call the Saints “cheaters” and to call their SuperBowl win “tainted” is foolish. Every football team preaches knocking the spit out of the other guy. Wanna see nasty and players trying to hurt each other? Watch some old school NFL videos. I’ve watched a horrible Saints defense for 2 years not touch the QB and arm tackle RBs and WRs. Please show me video of someone trying to “intentionally injure” another player. PLEASE!!! A month ago everyone would have agreed the reason the Saints made it to the SuperBowl was because Childress had 12 men on the field after a timeout or Brett Favre threw the INT to Porter after that penalty. Now their cheaters. All I see is a bunch of hypocrites hating on the Saints. Author included. The NFL is trying to protect their billions and make the Saints the scapegoat, that’s it, the end.

  90. mwanamatapa says: Mar 26, 2012 1:09 AM

    Quite simple really. The whistleblower back in 2010 recanted and the NFL could not corroborate the allegations back then but did tell the Saints to stop.

  91. randygnyc says: Mar 26, 2012 1:19 AM

    Bounties have been around a long time. In high school, we had them on our wrestling team (rewards for performance, not injury) and on the football team (rewards for injuries). In both cases these were always player funded and without coaches knowledge. The reward was never cash, but rather prizes (sandwiches, clothing or sports equipment). This took place over 30 years ago.

  92. discosucs2005 says: Mar 26, 2012 1:19 AM

    “Why not interview extensively every player from the team’s defense, using the various tricks of the trade aimed at manipulating the weak minded in order to get to the truth?”

    I don’t what image came to mind when you typed this out, but you’re getting pretty mellow dramatic about this whole bounty situation. It’s a HUGE scandal…in the sporting world. But you often seem to forget (or at least, wish to present yourself as someone who seems to forget) that sports are a very small part of life.

  93. jlswisc says: Mar 26, 2012 1:27 AM

    So many uninformed comments in this thread. (sorry for any type-o, writing on mobile device)

    1. To those complaining about the “story” and are “tired of it”—you can simply not click the headline and not read the story. Reading and posting a comment will only make the story appear more newsworthy and in reality (life outside of a football game) this story matters.

    2. To those still denying the existence of bounties of injuries, you are deny the NFL’s factual finding. You are not making a policy argument on why the punishments are wrong, you are denying something that all three suspended men have admitted took place. So please stop denying the factual finding.

    3. To those saying this eliminates the saints SB win, no it doesnt. The NFL did not find the refs were paid, nor does the bounty system taint the sb bc any illegal hit should have been called, and any missed call is just like any other missed call such as the steelers/seahawks super owl.

    4. To those saying Payton is undeserving of punishment bc all he did was not tell the truth and not stop the bounty program–lying to investigators can result in large penalties in many other contacts. 18 usc 1001 makes lying to federal investigators illegal and many are prosecuted for that crime and not the underlying offense (ex. Martha Stewart), so it is not just the NFL that views lying and covering up (worse than simply lying) as a bad offense. Further the fact is at Payton knew of the bounties and didnt stop them, hence he allowed them and implicity co-signed them.

    5. To those saying the league is trying to cover its ass—duh. The NFL operates in thr world off thr playing the field. It would be extremely negligent to not protect itself from ongoing and further lawsuits. If you enjoy watching football, you should be glad the nfl is doing so.

    6. To those complaining that the nfl is goign soft, or no players were hurt, you just dont see what is wrong with thr bounties—i agree that in many instances the nfl under Goodell has gone soft, but this is not one of those instances. The fact that no one was seriously injuried is a great thingg but it does not change the underlying action. A coach was willing go pay his players, extra, under the table money to injure other players. Not merely to play hard, make good plays, or create turnovers but to have the other player “carted off” or in Steve Smiths case to give him a concussion. He was basically paying his players to commit battery, the fact that the players had enough respect for the opposing players to reign in their actions, does not make the coachs’ actions any better.

    7. In regard to other teams having bounties–there is a valid argument to be made that others should recieve investigation, but unless there is a whistleblower it will be a hard case to put together. But more importantly, now every team is on notice and you better believe any tesm found to be using bounties in the future will be in major trouble. Moreover, none of the other teams lied to the NFL or tried to block an investigation and outside of GW it doesnt seem any other coaches have been linked to payments.

    8. The senate hearing is a giant waste of time and money. It is a senator trying to make a name for himself. That said, intentional injuries are a huge deal and have a major impact for the NFL outside of the football world. That is why this is a big story, a story larger than football, and a very serious matter.

    When we take our fan glasses off i hope we all can see thr seriousness and the need for serious action.

    Finally stop calling Goodell “god”—i understand you are doing it bc you think he thinks he is god. But if you believe in god, you are seriosuly demeaning your god. If you dont believe in god then thr comment makes no sense except it seems like s compliment to goodell.

    I am no fan of Goodell. I think the commish has made a ton of bad decisions and i think a lot of his fines and actions have taken some of the good, hard hitting, and fun out of football. But this situation is much different.

  94. rg3savedc says: Mar 26, 2012 1:48 AM

    Roger Goodell is a douche

  95. Justin says: Mar 26, 2012 1:55 AM

    How about you talk about the possible ramifications of the upcoming lockout. I would think that had something to do with it as well. That could be worth looking into.

  96. consolecomplaints says: Mar 26, 2012 2:18 AM

    Maybe they did not discover it because the Saints denied its existence?

  97. pongonfl says: Mar 26, 2012 2:48 AM

    Ya, the NFL was real worried about the Saints\Vikes game, they rebooked it for the opener the next season.
    The game made me sick and stopped me ever cheering for that team again.
    But the NFL apparently watched a different game, the officials sure did.

  98. ilovefoolsball says: Mar 26, 2012 4:16 AM

    rogerbrad says:
    Mar 25, 2012 11:04 PM
    The saints super bowl win is tarnished like Barry Bonds home run record
    ______
    only in your fantasy world.

    I know you fans of rival teams are eating this up but you won’t like the new NFL that this is going to create by this faulty Goddell judgement. This will get outside entities involved like Congress. This will bring about class action and civil litigation from different sources.
    This will leave a lasting impact on the game and how the game is discussed, I promise you.
    If you wish to blame the Saints for all of this you may stick your head in the sand or between your knees and keep mumbling that to yourselves, but in truth this is the house that Roger built.
    I never agreed with people when they would diss Goddell and I always respected the man, but this ruling showed to me that he takes things too personal, and that isn’t a good quality in a leader.
    I don’t like the sport but you don’t see Hockey getting so soft do you? Is it because it’s not as popular?

  99. robf2010 says: Mar 26, 2012 6:50 AM

    “How many players were actually injured, or had their careers shortened by an illegal hit from a Saints player? I’m not being a smart ass here – I’d seriously like to know from anyone who knows.”

    The number is ZERO.

  100. kingfish4242 says: Mar 26, 2012 7:47 AM

    captaintriumph says:
    Mar 25, 2012 10:16 PM
    OBVIOUSLY the NFL was in on it. The NFL wanted the Saints to win the Super Bowl. Failing franchise, Katrina, all that. All you need to do is check the officiating in the NFCC game, especially overtime. The NFL Network won’t even replay it.

    I usually don’t respond to statements like these made by blind homers,but I’ll make an exception here.

    In the immortal words of Paul Allen- Why do you even ponder passing? Take a knee and kick a 56 yard FG. This isn’t Detroit man!!!!!

    Blame the refs all you want. The real reason the Saints won and the Vikings lost were 5 turnovers. and a horrible non call by Ray Childress. Before halftime AP fumbles the ball on the 4 yd line without being touched. Favre throws the ball straight to Porter. The play before Porters Int,the Vikes had 12 men in the huddle. Childress should have called TO before the play was snapped. If he had,the next play would have been a Chester Taylor run setting the ball up for a 45 Yd FG attempt by Ryan Longwell. My bet is he makes it and the Vikes go on to the Super Bowl and not the saints.

    The calls in overtime were correct as well. Sorry,but it’s the truth. On Pierre Thomas’s dive for a first down,the ball was spotted at its farthest point in forward progress. It doesn’t matter if a defender knocks it backwards. Thomas never lost possession by fumbling thus the spot was correct.The PI call? I’ll admit it was ticky tack,but the defender never turned around. That gets called 90% of the time.

    I also gained a ton of respect for Vikings radio man Paul Allen days after the NFCCG. When asked if he blamed the Saints hits on Favre as the main reason the Vikes lost that game. He said absolutely not. Hitting the opposing Qb hard has always been part of the game. He went on to say when a team commits 5 turnovers on the road they’re lucky the game was even close.

    I’ll also admit I believe the Vikes were a better overall team than the Saints in 09. The best team doesn’t always win the Title game regardless of the sport. The Phillies were a much better team than the Cardinals last year. The Niners,Saints,and the Packers were better than the Giants this year. The Giants caught a few breaks,played their best ball late in the season and became the champions. I say well done and Kudos to the G-men. You deserved it.

    Lets also stop these NFL is rigged comments please. There is no way in heck the league can conspire with thousands in the know to fix their contests. Two people can keep a secret providing one of them is dead. The league would lose countless billions and be no better than Pro Wrestling if that were the case. The only difference is the WWE makes no attempt to say their outcomes are real. Vince McMahon a marketing genius knew he couldn’t claim his organization a sports business,so he marketed it as “entertainment” and the rest is history.

  101. technovike says: Mar 26, 2012 8:53 AM

    The explanation to the question is rather simple. a lot of the players from 2010 were no longer on the Saints payroll.

  102. bayouboy82 says: Mar 26, 2012 10:35 AM

    Why is everyone still talking about this? They got their punishments now lets move on I’m kinda tired of hearing about this damn. People are still going to play the way they want anyway these guys have millions already, fines and other bs isn’t really going to hurt them.

  103. cags777 says: Mar 26, 2012 12:44 PM

    First and foremost, this analysis was spot on. Thank you for writing it.

    gb4mn0 – Imagine if the Packers were in a playoff game against the Saints during the 2009 season. Imagine had Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, or Donald Driver been on the receiving end of cheap, malicious hits as Kurt Warner or Brett Favre. I guarantee you would be complaining 100 times more than the Vikings fans you decry. Don’t be so hypocritical with your comments just because Favre “betrayed Packer nation” by playing for another team.

    Also, some folks on here have raised some legitimate concerns about the NFL picking winners and losers in the regular season and the post season. I see other users, however, discounting and even disparaging those who are bringing up these concerns. If you’re not holding the NFL exec’s feet to the fire for putting out a tarnished product, why should you then be expected to hold anyone’s feet to the fire about correcting any wrong – whether it’s elected officials, criminal defendants, incompetent educators, corrupted spiritual leaders, etc.

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