Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saints apparently have dirty halos

The NFL came down on the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, penalizing them for running a "bounty" program. Defenders were paid for hits that knocked players out of games, or had them carted off the field.

Those are the crimes. The punishment was stiff:

-Head Coach Sean Payton suspended without pay for a year (beginning April 1).
-GM Mickey Loomis suspended for the first 8 weeks of the season, also without pay.
-The Saints were fined $500,000 dollars.
-Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the alleged architect of the program, was suspended from all NFL activities indefinitely.
-The Saints had 2nd round draft picks in 2012, and 2013 taken away from them.

Steep sanctions to say the least.

Good for the NFL.

I say that, because the idea of placing a bounty on the head of another player in pro sports is ridiculous. The same players that know full well they are one play away from possible death are going to put money in a pot to see who can injure another player? The mere notion of that is disgusting.

Football is a violent enough game when players are simply trying to play the game hard. Reading posts from players and former coaches on Twitter made me scratch my head. Former Head Coach Jimmy Johnson tweeted (through his verified account): "Bounties have been around for years throughout the league on a much smaller basis...lot of hypocrites out there." So that makes it ok?

The players that I have been in contact with in my days covering the NFL seem to be the kind of guys that would not take part in a program like that. I may be wrong, and if I am, then so be it, but the guys I have spoken to are players that value their careers, and respect the careers of others. Sure, they play hard, and they play tough, but they play fairly. Injuries occur on their own, and do not need to be helped by guys trying to be RoboCop on the football field.

Again, good for the NFL.

Elsewhere, the Charlotte Bobcats finally parted ways with forward Boris Diaw, after he and the team agreed to terms on a buy-out of his contract. It had been a rather stormy 2 weeks for the two sides in this. Nuts and bolts of it, Diaw wasn't playing hard enough for Head Coach Paul Silas' liking, Silas benched him (eventually deactivating him). Diaw is loaded with talent and ability, but it means nothing if it isn't applied. I liked Diaw, and wish him well, but the ending of this marriage was messy, to say the least.

In the end, everyone is happy. The Bobcats are out from under a big contract, Diaw will likely sign with a playoff-bound team for a bargain price, and the drama is removed from a locker room that needs to focus on hoops, and nothing else.

Mike Solarte

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