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The New Orleans Saints are in some serious hot water today after the NFL announced on Friday that the team’s players and coaches have been offering monetary rewards for knockouts and bounties for injuries.
The league announced that the team was in violation of the “bounty rule” over the course of the 2009, 2010, and 2011 campaigns. The NFL’s headquarters also stated that between 22 and 27 players participated in the program, and that the pool was primarily player-funded. The knockout fund reached nearly $50,000 during the 2009 postseason in which the Saints eventually captured Super Bowl XLIV. One assistant coach, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, has also been implicated in the investigation as the architect of the plan.
No one currently in the Saints’ organization has denied the charges, while Williams has apologized for being complicit with the allegations.
While Roger Goddell has yet to announce any discipline, ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes that the punishment will be worse than the forfeiture of a first-round pick and $750,000 in total fines absorbed by the Patriots organization for the 2007 “SpyGate” incident. Ironically, New England owns New Orleans’ 2012 first-round selection.
Once again, this appears to be another overblown, sensationalized story by members of the national media. It has been rumored that these types of “knockout pools” are commonplace in locker rooms throughout the league, so the self-righteousness oozed by members of the media is disingenuous, at best.
Having said that, Commissioner Roger Goddell is forced to take action. His recent public push for player safety, combined with the multitude of lawsuits recently brought against the league by former players have forced his hand.
With the Saints recent attempt to resign All-Pro QB Drew Brees and All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to long-term deals, this situation temporarily pushes those issues down New Orleans’ list of priorities.