Every so often Ben pays for the staff to fly to Wisconsin and hang out in his tiny apartment for a round table discussion on a particular football topic, because he wants this shit to be literal. He even bought a round table. Today they will be talking about about the Gregg Williams bounty scandal.
Darth Williams really knows how to get the locker room psyched for a game
Nate Raby: First of all nice place Ben, didn’t realize you were so into taxidermy. Is that an aardvark? Anyway, I think the media has heard enough excuses and defenders of the Saints – or at least of the idea of bounties in every locker room – that it would make me look like a sad homer to bring it up. So I’m just going to leave that alone and try to analyze what it all means.
It means that people are not only targeting players in a violent manner and getting paid for it; it means they’re stupid enough to leave records of it. So the Saints deserve to be punished. Does Payton deserve a half-year suspension? I don’t think so. Knowing the crime and not doing anything about it is bad, but this isn’tPennStateand there weren’t children involved, so Payton’s sin is much less dangerous. I think a punishment in the Spygate vein is fitting: draft picks and an organizational fine. Gregg Williams shouldn’t escape punishment; he should also be fined and either suspended on placed on a probationary period where if he slips up, he could face suspensions. I think players who were proven to be a part of it should get suspended.
But, as a Saints fan, I think that this story isn’t nearly as important as the other Saints story this week: franchising Drew Brees and not working out deals with Marques Colston or Carl Nicks. If these guys walk, that could hurt the Saints’ chances at another championship more than anything Roger Goodell can ever do.
Chris Dorsey: This was all surprising to me. Not the bounty concept—because you’d have to be an idiot to think it hasn’t gone on since pro football’s inception—but that the Saints would be the organization to take the hit for everyone else. Sean Payton has always struck me as an intelligent guy who seemed to have a good deal of control over his team and its image. Guess not. Why he and Loomis didn’t put the immediate kibosh on this practice the second they got wind of an NFL investigation is beyond me. Does Roger Goodell look like a chump to them? Does he seem like a guy who is a lot of talk and no action? He’s gonna crucify the Saints for this one, and they’ll deserve whatever they get.
I’m not morally outraged, but it’s bush league to me as a fan because of how often we have to sit and listen to endless player and coach-speak about everyone’s respect for the game and their fellow competitors, and that “nobody likes to see anyone get hurt.” Well, apparently they do. 1 crippled receiver + 1 motorized cart = 2 new velvet Michael Jacksons for the rec room! Score.
And if a team like New Orleans—never really known to be a “dirty” bunch—is this obviously guilty, what does that say for the rest of the league?
Lester Zook: So the New Orleans Saints ran a bounty program. I’m honestly not surprised, ask anyone who has played or coached football and they won’t be surprised either. Football is a violent sport and you need to have a certain mentality to step out there on the field knowing there is a good chance you’re going to feel pretty sore the next week. Is Gregg Williams an ethical coach? No, he goes against every coaching principal I can think of. Williams’ is a player’s coach though, and that’s one of the reasons Sean Payton and the Saints ownership covered the whole thing up.
When I play I want to make the guy playing against me regret it. Why? Seventy-five percent of all sports is mental. How do you mess with your opponent’s mind? You cloud his judgment with pain and you make him question his instincts. Gregg Williams knows that, and he brought this out in his players. The NFL is not going to see it that way, especially when it’s starting to come out that some big names were prime targets. Peyton Manning and Brett Favre bring in more money than Greg Williams and that’s the primary reason why I think the Saints are going to be severely punished by the NFL. Take it away, Ben.
Ben Van Iten: When I turned on ESPN programming this morning I expected to hear people railing against this bounty stuff so hard that I would be compelled to argue the other side out of sheer annoyance. But then a funny thing happened! A bunch of ex and current players came on and made it sound like this is just boys being boys, nothing to get too worked up about. It reminded me, to a lesser degree of course, of the reaction from players after Michael Vick was busted for that whole dog killing thing. I heard everything from, “it’s part of the southern culture” to “well, it’s not like it’s illegal” (this just in: yes it is.)
The vibe that I got from guys like Ryan Clark and Darren Woodson this morning is that they had no interest in responding to the issue at hand, they only wanted to defend their own past actions. I have no problem with the idea that most teams have a system where interceptions, big (legal) hits, and forced fumbles are rewarded with a few hundred dollars. But when Vilma says “hey if you knock Brett Favre out of the game I’ll give you ten grand” that’s not the same and if you can’t differentiate between those two things then I don’t really much care about the rest of your point of view. When you re-watch some clips of the 2009 NFC Championship game with this new information in mind, whether it is fair or not, you are bound to look at some of those hits differently.
Another common talking point is that the whistle blower should be ashamed of his or herself. First of all I doubt it was just one person, but regardless players probably need to get used to the idea that everything that happens in an NFL locker room is not protected by the attorney/client (or meathead/barbarian) privilege. The Saints had plenty of time to clean this up, but they didn’t. And it isn’t because they forgot. It’s because they had no desire to address this issue, and now Roger Goodell is going to address it for them. Also, can we please find a better name than Bounty Gate?
Join us next time when the guys discuss the topic, “What was your favorite Dave Krieg fumble?”