The New Orleans Saints are quickly becoming the bad boys of the NFL. Just recently, Sean Payton indicated how sorry he was for the bounty program that Gregg Williams ran as the Saints defensive coordinator. But Payton has eschewed his position and is filing an appeal of his suspension of one year that was handed out by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Why file an appeal if you’ve already said that you’re sorry? Because it buys Payton time to set up the season he wants to control in absentia.
Where is the contrition? Where is the remorse? The filing indicates where Payton’s heart is and it reveals his true character and it’s not a pretty sight to behold. Payton was the leader of the pack and he could have stopped the bounty program in its tracks when he found out about it. But he didn’t and in that moment of history when he failed to do the right thing he revealed what was more important to him: victory at any cost. That is the wrong message to send to millions of fans who rely on the NFL to run a clean and honest program.
Imagine if a competitor of yours paid someone to harm you enough to the point where you couldn’t work to support yourself or your family. That is what the Saints were doing when they ran the bounty program. It is wrong and Payton, by filing an appeal, reveals how he truly feels toward life and his profession.
If Payton were to forgo the appeal, I could have envisioned Goodell shortening his suspension by half a season, equal to what the GM of the Saints received. Payton could have become a very visible and model of integrity by speaking out against the reckless environment that he oversaw. He could have redeemed himself.
Recall 2009, when the Saints went to the Super Bowl. During Super Bowl week, the Saints were a problem child to the NFL. They were late to meetings, wouldn’t produce players at photo shoots, and generally thumbed their noses at the NFL.
This appeal will not be granted by Goodell, and will just further infuriate him and actually proffer further damage to the Saints, all because of arrogance and ego.
Note that Gregg Williams is not filing an appeal. Why not? Because Gregg Williams is guilty as charged and wants more than ever to return to the NFL to coach one day. He knows that the NFL is serious about cleaning up the game. He has taken responsibility for what he did and is accepting the consequences of his actions.
The Saints are making a big mistake in appealing and this puts their integrity and relationship with the league on the line. Goodell should act swiftly and purposefully to show all interested parties that the league will not stand for such behavior.