The New Orleans Saints and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams have violated the NFL's "Bounty Rule" by setting up a bounty pool adding up to $50,000 within the past three seasons, including the Saints' feel good Super Bowl winning season in 2009.
The NFL has reported that the pool reached its highest during that 2009 season.
The pool was set up by Williams and players were offered $1000 for cart-offs and $1500 for "knockouts". The amounts were doubled and sometimes tripled during the playoffs. Players put in money toward the pool and sometimes pledged money towards a specific player.
No punishments have been handed out by the league, yet. Possible punishments are loss of draft picks, suspensions, and hefty fines.
The report is troublesome because with the recent studies of concussions, the Saints are contributing to this ever growing problem. Look at former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson or former Steeler Justin Strzelczyk, both had problems with concussions and later committed suicide due to depression and other mental health issues caused by repeated blows to the head. Duerson and Strzelczyk are just two of the known cases of suicides by former players caused by brain damage from their playing days.
Another health problem that may be caused by concussions, although not confirmed, is ALS, or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The Saints should know better than anybody about this because former safety Steve Gleason is now battling this horrible disease. The link between ALS and concussions is not confirmed, but many former players like Steve Smith and O.J. Brigance now have ALS. Smith went on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" to express his concern that brain damage may be a direct link to ALS.
The NFL needs to come down hard on the Saints and make an example of them in order to help curb this issue. Although Williams is no longer with the team, the NFL needs to suspend him and fine him heavily. Williams said of the bounty, "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it." Yet, Williams continued to keep the bounty in place. That shows a lack of judgement in Williams' case and deserves a lengthy suspension.
Saints head coach Sean Payton found out about it later, but didn't do anything to stop it. If that is said to be true, then Payton needs to be suspended or maybe even fired. If we've learned anything from the Penn State scandal (The Penn State scandal is much worse than this one), is that by not doing the right thing will indeed cost you your job. Joe Paterno, a college football legend, was fired for not telling the authorities after we learned of Sandusky's allegations and rightfully so. If Paterno could get fired for not remedying a serious problem, then what makes Payton so safe? I'm not saying Payton will be fired for this, but it should be a possibility.
Williams, Payton, and every player involved needs to be punished in some sort of capacity or we have had learned nothing of this. For the sanctity of the NFL, throw the book at New Orleans.