Our buddy Albert Breer of NFL Network made a return visit to PFT Live on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the ongoing discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding the penalties to be imposed on Saints players who funded and/or received funds from the bounty system. The league continues to want the union to make a recommendation regarding the punishments for the players.
While discussing the situation, Breer made an excellent observation regarding the challenge the league currently faces. Though coaching staffs are now out of the bounty business, there may be no way to effectively prevent players from maintaining their own programs for generating cash via fines and paying it out via big plays and, possibly, knocking opponents out of games. If the players are committed to keeping it secret, and unless the coaching staff is willing to aggressively police the players, it could still happen.
And so, as Breer explained it, the best way to deter players from having off-radar bounty funds in the future will be to clobber the Saints players who were involved in the three-year bounty system.
Having the NFLPA on board with that approach could help the league minimize the P.R. fallout, nationally and, more importantly, in New Orleans arising from the imposition of significant suspensions on players like linebacker Jonathan Vilma, whom the league believes offered $10,000 to any player who knocks Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game. Though it remains unlikely that the NFLPA will make any recommendations or otherwise cooperate with the league’s intended discipline, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Or, in this specific case, keep asking.