The sordid tale of bounties and under-the-cable cash payments within the walls of the Saints organization takes on a slightly different feel when considering that some of the money that went into the pot came from someone not actually a part of the team.
Mike Ornstein’s name appears not in the press release that came from the league on March 2, but in the “confidential” report prepared that same day by NFL Security. During the 2009 playoffs, the man known commonly as “Orny” pledged (according to NFL Security) $10,000 toward the bounty. Ornstein later promised $5,000 toward a bounty on an opposing quarterback in an email to coach Sean Payton.
Recently, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune took a closer look at Ornstein’s involvement with the Saints, and Ornstein’s history of what Payton called in his book, Home Team, “a taste for mischief.”
Ornstein had a strong presence with the franchise in 2009, even though (as Duncan explains it) Ornstein got into a verbal altercation with owner Tom Benson (pictured) in the days preceding Super Bowl XLIV. Eventually, Ornstein and Benson made up — and Ornstein got a Super Bowl ring.
Duncan also explains that the email offering a $5,000 bounty applied to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the first game of the 2011 regular season.
Given Ornstein’s history of convictions (for battery and later fraud and most recently conspiracy), his involvement could make the league come down harder on the Saints. It also could attract the attention of the authorities, who initially could poke around in an effort to learn more about Ornstein’s motivations and later decide to delve more deeply into what ultimately was an organized effort to inflict injury for money.