Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kenesaw Mountain Goodell Drops The Big One

Super Bowl XXXXXXVVVVVIIIIVVVVVXXXX will be played in New Orleans this season. The odds are very good that the New Orleans Saints will not be one of the contestants.  That is because Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, just handed down perhaps the harshest penalty in the history of professional sports.  I'm still thinking my way through this as I type.  And please don't act surprised at the notion that I occasionally wing it over here.

The New Orleans Saints fessed up to having run a bounty system from 2009-2011 in which defensive players were paid bonuses to deliver hits that knocked opposition players out of the game.  "Fessed up" is too generous and implies a certain level of contrition.  The NFL got wind of this some time ago and told the Saints to knock it off.  They did not.  And they lied to the Commissioner's office when the said they had indeed knocked it off. 

Cut to the chase.  Gregg Williams, the Defensive Coordinator during this time (now with the Rams, at least until today) suspended indefintely.  Head Coach Sean Payton suspended a year without pay, said rate of remuneration being about 7 million.  GM Mickey Loomis 8 games.  LB coach Joe Vint 6 games.

But wait.  There's more. 

The Saints were fined 500,000 bucks and stripped of 2nd round draft picks for two years.  And they haven't even gotten around to dealing with the players that might have been involved.  Now 500k for an NFL franchise is chump change.  But draft picks?  And the League hasn't even gotten around to issuing edicts against the players involved.

Mais, we stalwarts who have followed the Saints for the last 30 years can kiss this season au revoire.  But then again, why are we surprised?  These are the Saints.  If anybody could fuck up this bad it would be the guys with a flower on their hats.  Special treatment from the League and the State of Louisiana after Katrina be damned. We're gonna run an illegal bounty system in which guys are promised extra bucks if they take out-ahem-Brett Favre and others. And we're gonna keep doing it despite the NFL issuing a cease and desist order?  What did they expect?

Let's put this in historical perspective.  SMU got the Death Penalty from the NCAA around 1980, which was a depth charge from which they have only recently recovered.  I know.  SMU is a college.  But they had guys on a payroll.  Like a real payroll with contracts and stuff.  That made them pros.  Albeit honest pros in NCAA D-I football.  Judge Landis banned Shoeless Joe Jackson from baseball after he tried to fix the 1919 World Series.  Pete Rose was, and is, banned from baseball for gambling on the sport.  While he managed the Reds.  Everybody in professional cycling and track and field are dopers. They get sanctioned when they get caught.  The steroid guys in baseball?  May not get banned from the sport but Sammy Sosa ain't likely to get into the Hall of Fame either. 

No.  Leave it to the Saints to get popped with the biggest sanction in the history of professional sports despite having the good will of the nation after Katrina.

But wait.  There's even more.

As one of the few sane tweeters said on the NOLA Times-Picayune website tonight: "Congratulations, Goodell.  You have just opened the biggest can of worms in history."

Sure he did.  You think the Saints were the only team guilty of offering bounties to knock opposing players out?  Of course not.  The more paranoid among us will suggest that the NFL would have never come down this hard on a big market team.  Do you think that the NFLPA might bring all of this up if the League tries to suspend players?  Absolutely.

I don't know how all of this will shake out.  But I do know that the Saints won't be playing in Super Bowl XXVVVXXXIIIXXVVVVIIIXXXIIII. 

1 comment:

Polycarp said...

I still the the punishment given to SMU was the harshest in professional sports history.