Bounty-Gate: New Orleans Saints Behaving Badly

Todd WashburnContributor IMarch 8, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints looks on prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images

There will always be someone in professional sports trying to get the edge on the competition.  Some do it legally, some do it illegally and some do it within that “gray area.”  

Unfortunately for newly hired Defensive Coordinator of the St. Lois Rams Gregg Williams, he will be the victim of being caught in the crossfire of an ongoing debate.  His “crime” was that he was found by a National Football League (NFL) security investigation to have illegally rewarded defensive players for big plays, including knocking opponents out of games during the 2009-11 seasons.

As a former coach for the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, Williams and several Saints players employed an illegal bounty system. After details of the NFL’s probe were released, five former Redskins, including defensive end Phillip Daniels and a former coach, told the Washington Post Williams had a similar system with Washington.

According to an Associated Press article released on the Sports Illustrated website, these bounty payoffs ranged from “knockouts” which were worth $1,500—to “cart-offs” which were worth $1,000, with payments doubling or tripling for the playoffs reaching all the way up to $50,000.  

“The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for `performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity.”

Let me get this right:  It is BAD for football players to hit each other?  When a defensive football player hits another player and knocks them out of the game repeatedly he is known as a great defensive player and gets rewarded in his next contract or incentive.  

However, (I am not saying bounties are right) when a coach offers just a little more incentive that is barely a fraction of a player’s salary and is really no financial gain, it becomes illegal?  Are we emasculating football now?  Why don’t we just take the pads off and play two-hand touch? 

It’s not like the coach is asking that they go permanently injure a player by blows to the neck and head. When a player gets hurt, never has it been reported that the opposition is jumping with joy to see that individual gone in the fashion he was evacuated.  They could be next.  

Williams will have to meet in New York with NFL security officials on Monday to see what could come down as a swift punishment, warning or fines and suspensions—not to mention the Rams could end up without a defensive coordinator.  

He apologized for his role, saying, “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”  

The NFL is clear in its rule that it will not allow players to be paid for specific performances during games. It seems that it is only acceptable to pay players for knocking out the opposition when the commissioner and owners give it the OK.  From the outside looking in, it seems confusing in the ethics department.  I am glad NFL revenue is going to all this Dick Tracy investigation rather than something like health care for their athletes.  

Good call Goodell.