The Saints did a very naughty thing, and now they will be punished for what they did. It seems eminent that the NFL will come down very, very hard on the New Orleans Saints for their bounty scandal, as it involves purposely caused injury brought on by cash incentives. The NFL has entered an era of hyper-sensitivity with injury, specifically involving the head, and this type of scandal is potentially a huge blow to the NFL label that cannot be avoided.
Obviously, it's not a bad thing that the Saints scheme was found out, or that the NFL masthead will do everything in its power to come down on them. The problem is the NFL's reasoning for punishment of the New Orleans Saints, a reasoning that involves money (surprise!). As stated many times before, the only real reason for the NFL to be concerned with matters like this is because it potentially gives the NFL one of those "black eyes" to people who don't realize the NFL is chock full of these things. The NFL will pretend to care and moralize about how these type of scandals are ripping the fabric of the game in two, and how the NFL Is Doing Everything They Possibly Can.
The fact of the matter is that bounties are commonplace, and although they seem laced with sadism and such, similar ordeals are rampant throughout all levels of football. How is this different from being told to "crack somebody in the mouth," something I was told countless times during my crappy middle school football career. How is this different from college football helmets being laced with stickers, put on because a linebacker knocked an opponent's lung loose? How is this different from what ESPN did years ago with "Jacked Up"? Football, at every stage of a player's evolution, is rampant with incentives for hard hits. People will say money is the difference, but as Deadspin's Nate Jackson states, the $1,000-$10,000 range the players were regularly paid is little compared to their actual annual salary. This story is a big deal because money is the apparent motive, although in reality it was probably little more than a mediocre tip.
Gregg Williams, the center of this whole insanity because it appears he was the capo di tutti capi of the whole Saints thing, will likely be made a pariah by the NFL and will be swiftly punished. Shouldn't Williams be slamming his head into drywall for being the only one stupid enough to be caught doing this? If the NFL could have it its way, bounties would be out of sight and out of mind, but still within the seedy underbelly of the game. Williams had to go and leave a paper trail; otherwise he would be continuing his bounty ways in St. Louis.
This story has been compared endlessly to Spygate, which is a horrible comparison due to the fact that one could actually say "spying" helped the Patriots, whereas the Saints regularly had one of the league's worst statistical defenses. Just as the NFL made an example out of the Patriots then, they will be sure to make one of the Saints now. But don't think for a moment it is anything more than a savvy public relations move, done to ensure that the NFL "will not stand for such nonsense." Such lies.