Saints Bounty Program Is a Bigger Deal Than Eavesdropping
An ESPN Outside the Lines Report stated Saints GM Mickey Loomis eavesdropped on opposing coaches for nearly three seasons in the Super Dome from 2002 to 2004.
The report comes just weeks after the NFL already punished the Saints organization for operating a bounty system under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
The Saints denied the allegations, and the NFL sent down a massive punishment.
Among the penalties: The Saints lost two second-round draft picks (do not have a first-rounder this year). They were fined $500,000, Williams was suspended indefinitely, head coach Sean Payton was suspended for 2012.
The bounty program instilled by Williams remains the bigger issue, and here's why:
As indicated above, the alleged eavesdropping took place from 2002 to 2004, which was eight to 10 years ago. How many of the current Saints were on the team in 2004? General Manager Mickey Loomis, owner Tom Benson, wide receiver Devery Henderson and defensive end Will Smith. Smith and Henderson were not on the team prior to 2004.
Before the Outside the Lines report was released, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was unaware of the allegations.
Investigations of this manner and magnitude take an enormous amount of time to complete, and that's only if the league chooses to investigate.
By the time the NFL concludes their investigation, if they conduct one, we could be looking into the year 2013, which is almost 10 years after the fact.
Which Scandal is the bigger deal?
No competitive advantage
The Saints advantage gained from cheating, if the allegations are true, were not significant. The Saints had a 25-23 record during that time span, including just 12-12 at home. If the Saints actually did cheat, it didn't help them win games.
When the NFL found New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick guilty of similar infractions, it was apparent that the Patriots gained a significant competitive advantage during that time. The Patriots won three Super Bowls under Belichick's reign and haven't won once since Spygate.
The other reason the eavesdrop did not provide a competitive advantage is because it would have taken an elaborate and sophisticated process just to cheat successfully. Once Loomis would have heard the opposing play call, he would have to radio down to Jim Haslett, the Saints coach at the time, and tell them the play.
There's just not enough time on the play clock for this type of system to work. And at the end of the day, even if you know the opposing play, can you even stop it?
Intent to Injure
Still, the Saints' intent to injure players is a more severe allegation because of the NFL's crackdown on hard hits.
Roger Goodell has taken many steps this past year to attempt to eliminate these vicious hits, ranging from fines to suspensions.
The NFL is currently battling in court against a slew of former players saying the NFL did not tell them the full impact of concussions. The league is trying to clean up its image and the Saints' intent to injure opposing star players is the exact opposite of the league's goal.
Having a monetary benefit for injuring players was not worth it because the fine associated with one of those hits now days is larger than the payout for dishing out the hit.
How would you feel if someone was attempting to hurt your son and was getting paid to do it? Well, that's exactly how the NFL feels right now.
The Saints misled the NFL and continue to deny the allegation, frustrating the league.
The NFL's patience is running out with the Saints, and it's time they start owning up to the truth if they want gain the league's trust back.
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