The New Orleans Saints should be stripped of their Super Bowl title.
Recently, reports from ESPN's Adam Schefter have indicated that the Saints players and coaching staff had a “bounty pool” for whoever would cause a game-ending injury to a member of the opposing team. Adam Schefter also reported that Jonathan Vilma, the Saints' best defensive player, placed a bounty on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.
"In the week of the NFC Championship Game," Schefter said on NFL Live Friday, "Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma put $10,000 in cash on a table and said 'this goes to the guy that knocks out Brett Favre.'" Those weren't Vilma's exact words, but they were similar, according to Schefter, and he's sure to be atop the league's target list for impending discipline. It's worth nothing that Vilma is due $5.4 million in 2012 and has been discussed as a possible salary cap casualty. We wouldn't expect him back with the Saints."
You would be heartless to believe that what the Saints have done is “not a big deal”. As a football fan, I have been growing wary of the fact that “bounty-hunting” has been a part of the game for quite some time—it needs to stop. Unfortunately for the Saints, they are going to play the role of the scapegoats.
Athletes should never play a game with the mindset of trying to injure a player to the point where he cannot play anymore. Trying to injure a player not only affects the player, but it also affects the fans and the owners.
Most of the players the Saints have been going after are marquee athletes who have been given big contracts by owners. Intentionally trying to injure another player is technically like stealing a check from the hands of the owner. Not only does the owner feel pain, but the fans do as well.
Fans do not want to see their starting quarterback go down with an injury for any reason—especially if that reason is because there is some sort of cash consideration given to the player who injured the other.
In 2010, during the NFC Championship Game, it seemed as if the Saints were trying to murder Brett Favre every time he stepped back for a pass. The most disturbing hit was the one that Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele, who is now a Viking, had on Favre in the late stages of the game.
During the game it seemed like your typical dirty play that the referee’s missed, but now the truth behind that hit has finally come out—McCray and Ayodele were trying to be the ones who not only ended Favre’s game, but his career as well.
In the same season, Kurt Warner had the same treatment Favre did when McCray leveled Warner after he threw an interception. This was the hit that finally sent Warner into retirement. The hit by McCray was uncalled for—especially if the only motivation behind the hit was to take Warner out of the game.
This type of behavior is something that should not be tolerated at all—especially in the professional level. Like criminals, the Saints deserve a harsh punishment in order to really understand that what they have been doing is wrong.
The only way to deter the Saints or any other NFL team from his type of behavior is to strip the Saints away of something they cherish more than anything—their 2010 Super Bowl championship.
NFL owners, coaches, players and fans would all agree that players should be treated with the highest possible level of safety. In a time where concussions are becoming the norm, there should be a low tolerance for underhanded moves like what the Saints have been pulling.
How Should NFL treat the Saints?
Stripping away the title from the Saints would not only destroy the team, but it would destroy their strong fan base. Although it may seem unfair to break the hearts of the Saints faithful, they would need to realize that supporting their team for something like this is undoubtedly immoral.
There have been plenty of scandals in sports history, but this one is definitely competing for the top spot. Some of the players—especially McCray—should be treated the same way the players from the Chicago “Black Sox” did in 1920—permanent expulsion from the sport.
The White Sox scandal was one of the worst in sports history, but the Saints had a more negative impact on a broad range of people involved with the game. The fans, owners and coaches suffered from what the Saints and White Sox did—but the Saints hurt players as well.
The punishment given to the White Sox in 1920 seemed like it worked out for baseball because other than Pete Rose, no team has tried to bet against themselves then throw games. If the Saints' championship is taken away from them, along with permanent expulsion given to some players, bounty hunting in the NFL will die even before it starts with other teams.
Although the NFL will most likely not take this drastic of a step, for purposes of deterrence, it is the right thing to do.
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