Cheating, Apologies, Excuses and Honor

Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints football team was accused of not stopping the illegal bounty program participated in by his players and organized by his defensive coordinator, Greg Williams. Further, the league found that the head coach lied to investigators about the existence of this program.

If these facts are true, one could ask many questions. First, if the bounty program was so egregious, why did the NFL wait until 2012 to bring out the charges? If the NFL was really worried about the integrity of the game and player safety, Payton and Williams should have been fined and suspended in 2010 and the NFL should have put observers on the field. Next, why are the coaches being praised and supported by players and fans?

A head coach with knowledge, an assistant coach actually organizing the bounty program, the NFL questioning the coaches as early as 2010 and it was not stopped immediately? The coaches and the league together, seemingly allowed this dangerous system to continue. A system that essentially targeted players on other teams with intent to cause bodily injury. None of these individuals involved in the scandal should be praised, including the league.

Moreover, this was not a one time event where a handful of human beings were simply acting human by making mistakes and using poor judgement. In this case, a group of individuals were caught breaking the rules and were told to stop breaking the rules, but instead they continued.

Further, it is troubling to read that Sean Payton is receiving so much support. It is even worse that the team has said it will use this event to come together and do everything to win and honor the head coach. It does not make sense.

Frankly, all of these coaches should be suspended for 3 years. The Saint's Super Bowl Victory should have a large asterisk. The team owner should be questioned further regarding the response of management and the NFL should reassess its priorities and how it enforces the rules it creates. Consider that Olympic athletes are suspended for years and their medals are taken away for taking drugs that only enhance their individual performance. Does anyone remember the fate of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson?

Subscribe to Steve Victorson's Newsletter