Generally speaking, the Saints have pushed back much harder against the NFL regarding the bounty investigation than the Patriots did regarding Spygate. Then again, the Pats got merely a stern talking-to in comparison to the 77 games in suspensions imposed on the various persons involved in the Saints scandal.
Through it all, owner Tom Benson has been publicly silent. On Tuesday, he privately made his concerns known to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the two men met on Tuesday so that Benson could address the manner in which the team was treated.
Presumably, Benson wasn’t looking to thank Goodell for going easy on the team.
The NFL has encountered significant resistance to the suspensions, once the process turned from coaches and executives to the players. By refusing to disclose key evidence and by publicizing and otherwise leaking information that contained troubling flaws, the NFL opened the door for scrutiny.
At its core, a red/blue state disagreement exists regarding whether the Saints used bounties, per se. The term suggests that players were engaged in deliberate behavior that went beyond the confines of the rules to inflict injury. The reality seems to be that the Saints offered money to players who applied good, clean, legal hits in a way that kept their opponents from staying in the game.
The league has come close to acknowledging that, under its rules, paying players for clean, legal hits that knock an opponent out of a game constitutes a bounty. But that would potentially spark a debate the NFL likely doesn’t want to moderate regarding whether it’s fair to impose such sweeping penalties (especially against the players) for giving the men who play the game a marginal cash incentive to do something they already have a strong incentive to do in a sport that rewards those who create attrition with a greater chance for victory.