An NFL investigation that began in 2010 has identified St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as the ring leader of a bounty-hunting "pay for performance" program during his time in New Orleans.
Following in the footsteps on former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, who was notorious for putting out "hits" on opponents, Williams distributed cash payments to his players for injuring opponents.
Over 20 players may have been involved in the bounties in one way or another, whether as participants, payment recipients or fund contributors.
Payments allegedly reached $1,500 for "knocking out" an opposing player and $1,000 dollars for forcing a player to be "carted off" the field. Although, there were also rewards for positive plays, such as interceptions and fumbles (which is also a violation of NFL rules).
It's not taken lightly when a coach encourages his players to injure opponents, especially when the coach offers compensation for their efforts. Possible sanctions include fines, suspensions and even a loss of draft picks.
And while it sounds like an undesirable predicament for Williams and the Saints, the situation should have little to no effect on the Rams.
Any loss of draft picks will come at the Saints' expense, obviously, while suspensions are a better deterrent for the players involved rather than the coaches.
The likely punishment in Williams' case is a fine. And while that sounds like a weak punishment, the NFL will certainly ensure that it's a hefty fine, as opposed to a slap on the wrist.
There will likely be no repercussions handed down from the Rams directly. It's the Saints' problem, so the Rams will likely trust the NFL's discretion in the handling of the situation.
Don't expect Williams to be fired either.
Jeff Fisher and Williams are close friends. Their history dates back to their time together in Tennessee during the 90s, which means Fisher will more than likely go to bat for Williams in any way possible.
Also, the situation will not likely influence the style of coaching that Williams and Fisher bring to the table this season. They will still be hard-nosed and make toughness a top priority. The only thing they'll leave out is the cash reward.
And while this was certainly a unforeseen incident that's surely igniting some uncertainly among the fanbase, it's likely that this situation that will be forgotten in just a couple of short months.
There's no excuse for the behavior, and we should hope that it doesn't continue in St. Louis.
However, it's better to have coaches who are criticized for being too violent, rather than coaches who are far too soft, which was clearly the case with previous regimes.