The first thing that comes to my mind is are you stupid or are you dumb? What was possibly going through any of these coaches minds when they okayed this. My roommate Mark has a new acronym that fits this event perfectly; this is some TFUS (The cleaner, more internet appropriate version is Totally Fudged Up Stuff…..you get the idea). There is talk that Greg Williams not only did this as defensive coordinator in New Orleans, but while he was defensive coordinator in Washington under Joe Gibbs AND when he was Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills. One of the Bills former players, Coy Wire, said that he was rewarded for big hits financially and was showered with praise. He claims that he was even praised for breaking former Detroit Lions running back James Stewart’s shoulder, and it should be noted that Stewart never played again (Victory Formation). Tony Dungy is further alleging that Peyton Manning’s initial neck injury was against the Redskins when Williams was their DC, but something like that will be more difficult to prove. To add onto all of this, there is also talk that the Tennessee Titans had a bounty program while current Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz was their DC.
The problem with a scandal such as this is that information will continue to trickle out and will not stop for quite some time, so it will be a lot of hearsay information until anything becomes official. It took the NFL a while to build up their report against New Orleans, and while former players and coaches say that it is commonplace for stuff like this to happen, the bottom line is, why? I can understand someone getting upset and trying to injure someone on a play like Ndamukong Suh did. You’re in the heat of the moment and you lash out, it happens to every one. But accepting money for attempting to injure someone just seems wrong. Interceptions, big touchdowns, big hits, I can understand, but literally paying someone money if they get a player carted off the field is brutal. Now, how do you decipher between big hits and attempting to injure someone? You can’t. Which is why bounties have no place in a professional sport. Athletes are already being paid obscene amounts of money; are you really that bored with your profession that you have to go out and have a side pot to play for?
To state the obvious, this will not go away quickly for anyone involved, and the NFL is going to drop the hammer on Greg Williams and the Saints for this. They can complain that they weren’t the first ones to do it, but the bottom line is no one cares if you’re the first, they only care that you got caught. Just like Michigan and Ohio State getting in trouble with the NCAA. Ohio State’s football players are not the only ones to trade memorabilia for different goods and services, but they got caught. Just like the Fab 5 were not the only ones taking money, and Rich Rod’s football program was not the only one practicing too long. Situations like this become total SNAFU’s and the only way to not get in trouble is to not do it. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell punished the New England Patriots for spy-gate by giving Head Coach Bill Belichick the maximum $500,000 fine, fined the organization $250,000 and made them forfeit a first round pick if they made the playoffs (ESPN.com). I would fully expect Greg Williams to receive a similar fine, plus a suspension. Head Coach Sean Payton will also receive a fine, as well as the organization. And to further make an example of the Saints, I would expect them to forfeit at least their first round pick. This is worse than cheating, and I would expect the punishment to reflect that.