The Commissioner of the National Football League once again has his fingerprints all over another mess in his never-ending efforts to ‘protect the shield.’ Earlier today, Roger Goodell, through the media of course, announced the penalties for the New Orleans Saints, their coaches and former coaches for their roles in ‘BountyGate.’
If you’ve been on another planet, this where it was revealed that the Saints former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with STL) was instituting a system in which his players would be paid extra for injuring the opponents’ key players. It even went so far as to whether they limped off the field or were carted off in terms of dollar amount.
Goodell has now spoken.
Saints’ Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one full season. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is not with the Rams, has been suspended indefinitely and will not coach this season at all. General Manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended the first eight games and the team has been docked 2nd round draft picks this year and next. Discipline for players which could number near 30 has not been decided yet.
Last week I wrote that this was a big decision for Goodell and no one was watching closer than the Pittsburgh Steelers who are not exactly on the Commissioner’s Christmas card list. I applaud the Commissioner for getting ‘tough’ and for not leaving the Steelers in a lurch thinking again they are the targeted ones. Unfortunately for Roger Goodell, this severe punishment will now cast an even greater spotlight on his complete joke of a disciplinary move he leveled in 2007 on the New England Patriots for SpyGate.
The Patriots were docked a first-round draft pick, $250,000 and Coach Bill Belichick was hit for $500,000. There were no suspensions. Who exactly does Goodell think he is fooling here? Both of those dollar amounts are laughable because each was a drop in the bucket for both the owner Robert Kraft and the Head Coach. The knock of a first-round pick was just as big of a joke considering they had the 31st pick in the following draft. Essentially, this was no penalty.
I am by no means disregarding what New Orleans has created and fostered for itself here. Placing bounties on guys is flat-out wrong on several levels but can you call it cheating? How is it cheating? Are you cheating by hitting Brett Favre just “that much harder” in a game? Are you cheating if you hit a guy so hard he has to be taken off on a cart? If you’re a defender in the NFL, part of your job is tackle as hard and well as you can and to intimidate too. Is placing a bounty inappropriate? Yes it is, but it is not cheating.
The Patriots were filming other teams’ practices as well as their signals during games. This is cheating because you are deliberately altering the course of the game before it even starts. The Steelers will flat out tell you New England was calling out the Steelers’ plays before they were even to the line of scrimmage in 2004. Other teams have made similar claims. To me the real clincher in Goodell’s cover-up of SpyGate is the fact he destroyed the tapes.
Why on Earth was the destruction of the tapes even necessary if Goodell felt there was nothing to hide? Because what those tapes revealed would have brought so much negative attention to the ‘shield’ that Goodell was fearful the league may not recover. Baseball had the 1994 strike which hurt it badly. It even tolerated a steroid-laced home run record chase in order to “save the game.” I guarantee you there were more tapes than we’ll ever know about and there was more on those tapes than we’ll ever know about too.
The Saints needed to be punished and Goodell has done that. He should be commended for sticking to his guns. Unfortunately, all he has done is cast a greater shadow on his most disappointing disciplinary effort ever in New England’s SpyGate.