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‘Bountygate’ Details Get Uglier by the Moment
It's going to get worse in New Orleans before it gets better. A lot worse.
The bounty hunting that went on under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is spinning out of control. Williams had been with the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills - as head coach - prior to coming to New Orleans and reportedly had bounty programs with those franchises as well.
The NFL investigated the Saints and determined that players were paid $1,500 for knockouts and $1,000 for opponents who had to be carted off the field.
While nobody believes that Williams was that much of an original thinker and came up with a pay-for-pain program on his own, it comes at a time when the NFL is taking unprecedented precautions to avoid head injuries and concussions.
Williams has been caught red-handed and has been apologetic. "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it," said Williams. "Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it."
However, acting sorry and regretful is not going to get Williams off the hook. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is likely to come down hard on him and his former employer.
Goodell can't just single out Williams, who recently signed with the St. Louis Rams and will be that team's defensive coordinator under new head coach Jeff Fisher. Saints head coach Sean Payton and general Mickey Loomis may have a difficult time avoiding scrutiny. Payton is a typical head coach/control freak. He knows everything that goes on with his football team. Nevertheless, it would be shocking if Payton owns up to what was happening and takes some responsibility.
Loomis probably can make a more legitimate "ignorance" claim than Payton, but it would still be difficult to believe that he was unaware of the bounty system because of his day-to-day involvement with the Saints' coaching staff and players.
Loomis will almost certainly have to deal with the fallout from the bounty program. Goodell may use several punishment tools at his disposal, including taking away draft choices from the Saints. That would be a harsh penalty for this team, because the Saints have drafted so well over the years. If Goodell took way two draft picks from the team, that might be the same as losing two starters.
As this mess continues to unfold, it's going to get much uglier.
Pro Football Talk - NFL finds that Saints violated 'bounty rule'
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