I want to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this blog: I in no way am putting the Saints (who are not involved in the Bounty Scandal) or Saints fans down in this blog. I urge you to not consider that to be anywhere in my words. Quite the contrary, I feel for the fans (I can only imagine what I would do should my beloved Colts have been involved in something like this...), I feel for the players who are innocent and uninvolved in the bounty,,,but, the question I pose is one we're all thinking...
The Bounty Scandal. We all know what it is. We all have our opinions about it. And we are all wondering the same thing: Just how bad will this season be for the NO Saints?
To recap: dating back to the 2009 season, the powers that be that run the NFL have suspected a possible "bounty scheme" being run within the Saints organization. The Saints and Payton where given one, no two, no wait THREE warnings about shutting it down if there indeed was such a thing going on within the organization. The Saints pled innocent, assuring the commish and others no such thing was happening in their organization...well, someone snitched on the organization and confirmed to the NFL powers that a bounty scheme was indeed being ran in NO (who it was does not matter to me, and personally I am glad they did...now if I was a fellow teammate that happened to be involved in the bounty scheme I'd be shall we say ticked). Therefore, a full on investigation was logded to find the truth.
Well folks, the truth ain't pretty.
Not only was Greg Williams (then the NO Saints DC and most recently hired as the Rams DC) involved, but so was Sean Payton, the HC and someone I considered to be a pretty stand up guy...boy was I wrong...I first thought, no, Payton didn't know about it. He just wasn't doing a good job at managing his staff. Friends, this hope has been shattered with evidence showing Payton was indeed aware of the scheme. He lied to investigators about it, and instructed his defensive assistants to lie as well...let's just say any ounce of respect I had for him is gone. I hang my head in dissapointment at this one. You see, even though I am not a Saints fan per say,I had gained respect for them...especially Payton and Brees. These two men to me brought the organization up from ashes to a playoff contender consistently in the recent past, so to find out that one of them was deeply involved in something as repulsive as a bounty scheme disgusts me (and yes, slightly crushes me).
Commish Goodell then issued his verdict and sentences for those involved: HC Payton suspended for the entire 2012 season (originally to begin April 1st, but pushed back to April 16th due to appeals), Assistant HC Joe Vitt suspended for 6 games , GM Mickey Loomis suspended for 8 games, a $500,000 fine to the organization, and the loss of their second round draft picks for not only this year but next year as well, and Greg Williams, well IMO he has been Pete Rose'd from the NFL...suspended indefinitely.
Ok, recap done, let's move on to what "good behavior" from Payton, Vitt, and Loomis could get them. After the appeals, Goodell, who has been (and remains) pretty unyielding and firm regarding not tolerating such repulsive behavior as bounties, has not locked the door on the monetary fines and loss of draft picks.
Goodell said in a statement if Payton, Loomis and Vitt “embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way,” he would consider reducing the financial penalties on them.
Goodell also “would consider whether there are factors that would support modifying the forfeiture of the team’s 2013 second-round draft choice.” (What I read into this is, depending on how deep and wide this thing goes the Saints might have the opportunity to get this part of the punishment revoked.)
So in essence, Goodell is saying "Hey, you messed up...big time, BUT if you learn from your mistakes and get on the straight and narrow I will make things a little easier as time moves on"...so, hope is not lost for the Saints...it's time for these men to show what they are made of. Time to admit you are wrong, correct your ways, and honestly promise not to do something so dispicable again...to me that is what Goodell is looking for from them.
OK! All that said (and it needed to be said to get to the meat--the point--of this post), where will this leave the Saints in 2012?
The book is not closed regarding this scandal. Up to 27 players (many who are still with the Saints and many who are now else where) are being investigated and are likely to be fined/punished for participating in this sorid scandal. (FYI: Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been charged by the NFL with offering a $10,000 bounty on Vikings QB Farve if a teammate sidelined him in the 2009 NFC Championship game...first of many...) When Goodell has finished running his fine toothed comb through this situation and has issued all punishment that needs to be issued, where will the Saints be? What will they be left with? Will their season this year (and possibly next) be down the drain with no hope in sight? ... ...
All is NOT lost IMO. Butm the weight of this heavy task falls on the shoulders of one man: Drew Brees. Brees is the heart beat of the Saints team. When he came to NO, he revived the Saints and a city that seemed to have given up on football. He was like water in a dry desert (granted, Brees would say the same about the Saints b/c this organization revived Bree's NFL career from the dead...no one wanted him after his shoulder injury). Drew brought passion...he brought hope...he is a big reason why the Saints are who they are today. Whether you want to admit it or not, Drew is at the center of the reason for success for the Saints.
Now, this task for Drew is even bigger than ever b/c his counter part in success was/is Sean Payton...who finds himself smack dab in the middle of this bounty scandal...so...Payton is gone and Drew is left alone to keep the team from falling...can he do it? Will he get it done? ... ... ... ...
My answer is this: IF ANYONE CAN DO IT, DREW BREES CAN.
... ...but the Saints organization needs to get a contract sealed for their leader... ...if they fail to do this, I shudder to think of the future for the Saints... ...