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The New Orleans Saints don't look like Saints Anymore
Earlier in the week, the National Football League announced its decision and punishments for the bounty scandal that has been going on. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, has a reputation for strict punishments, but no one knew what to expect for this. Goodell has shown time and time again that he wants to protect the players and keep the league as safe as possible. Being a bounty scandal, it was expected that the punishments handed down would be severe. If you don’t know what a bounty is, it means enticing defensive players with money to injure the opposing offensive players and knock them out of the game.
There was definitely a sort of shock and amazement when Goodell announced how the New Orleans Saints would be punished. Sean Payton, the head coach, was suspended for the entire upcoming season. Mickey Loomis, the general manager, was suspended for eight games. The former defensive coach and organizer of the bounty system, Gregg Williams, was suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Joe Vitt, a Saints’ assistant coach, was suspended for six games and fined $100,000. The Saints were also stripped of two-second round draft picks and fined $500,000.
At first sight, these punishments seem really extreme, but let’s take everything into account. We are talking about players’ safety. We are talking about encouraging and paying players to hit opposing players with the intent of causing injuries to remove them from the game. Yes, this is football and a violent game, but it is only a sport. It should not be played with the intent of injuring; it should be played to win in a clean manner.
As the orchestrator of the entire bounty system, Gregg Williams’ punishment seems like a no-brainer. He deserves to be kicked out of football forever. Payton and Loomis were apparently aware that the bounty system was going on and didn’t do anything to stop it. Even worse, they allegedly lied to the NFL about it. The general manager and head coach are the leaders of the team and should know when to put a stop to something. Clearly, the punishments for these two were warranted. As far as the assistant coach, draft picks, and miscellaneous fines, they all make sense as to punish the organization as a whole.
These punishments are not the problem to me; the real problem lies in the fact that there were not enough punishments handed out. Obviously, the bounty system cannot take place without cooperation from the players. So, who were the players taking place in this? It is unlikely that every Saints’ defensive player was involved with the bounty system, but some of them must have received payouts. The next big step for the NFL will be handing down punishments to all the players who participated in Williams’ bounty game. They are just as guilty for playing a part in his scheme to injure opposing players.
Goodell has already announced that his next step in this scandal will be focused on the players. Based on his history of punishments, we can all be sure that more fines and suspensions are to come. While the punishments thus far have really only affected the Saints, they could become much more wide spread if players start being suspended. Many former Saints’ defensive players are now part of other organizations, so many teams around the NFL could feel the effects of this terrible bounty game.
It is necessary that Goodell sets a precedent for this. Football in the NFL is already dangerous enough when played the right way. Players do not need to worry about being injured because of someone playing the game dirtily. They could face life-long results and suffering depending on the injury, and that should not be part of professional football, or football at any level.