In 2009, the Saints came marching in
Led by cannon armed passing aficionado Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ high-powered offensive aerial assault lit up the highlight reels and posed a significant threat to even the most talented defensive secondaries. The “who dat” Saints racked up an impressive 13-3 regular season record and entered the playoffs with unrelenting momentum and confidence. They went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV, earning the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
Yet the Saints success was much sweeter then just their championship.
They singlehandedly helped revitalize the world-weary city of New Orleans and bring it from the depths of despair into a new era of optimism. Many Saints players were active members in the community, and could be seen helping clean up Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. The team was much more than a successful sporting franchise to New Orleans: it was a beacon of hope and renewal, and gave the citizens an emotional outlet to heap their hopes and dreams upon. At the helm of this revolution was the illustrious young coach Sean Payton, a man who represented every positive quality an individual could ever ask for.
Now, after the recent revelations of the Saints bounty system, Payton has been suspended for the entire 2012 season. All the pride and glory has been swept away. The gaudy images of the Saints hoisting the championship trophy seem warped and distorted, a distant memory that is slowly eroding before our very eyes.
According to an in-depth official league investigation conducted over the course of two years, over 20 Saints defensive players participated in the bounty system from 2009-2011. The system was implemented by ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and at one point over $50,000 was circulating around the locker room, offering paid incentives for players to “knockout” or “cart-off” various offensive players. The majority of the funding was provided by players.
Due to the fact this bounty system is obviously an egregious violation of the integrity and safety of the sport, Goodell has chosen to bring the hammer down on the Saints organization. They have been stripped of their second round picks for the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts and ordered to pay $500,000 in penalty fees. Williams has currently been suspended indefinitely, and it is rumored he instituted similar bounty programs with past teams.
While Payton’s season long suspension is understandably shocking, he deserves every single day of it. While he was never directly involved with the bounty program, he was well aware of its existence and influence within the locker room. He constantly advocated his program’s integrity and dedication towards upholding the highest moral standards, all while sweeping this ugly business under the rug.
I don’t believe Payton is a bad man. But he deserves this. His lofty suspension will serve as a wakeup call to the rest of the NFL and show that rules violations will not be taken lightly. It ultimately indicates the NFL isn’t afraid to suspend one of its most illustrious coaches.
Hopefully this following season Payton will return, and prove to us he is truly the man we once believed he was.