Spiraling out of control? Well, not yet, but the New Orleans Saints are definately entering into uncharted territory — not only in dealing with potentially losing marquee players — but now with fines, suspensions, and perhaps forfeiture of draft picks for their involvement in a “bounty” system.
Essentially between the years of 2009 – 2011, under the direction of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and with the knowledge of GM Mickey Loomis, defensive players with the Saints were monetarily rewarded for damaging hits on opposing players.
Payments ranged from as little as $1000, awarded the defensive player that caused an opponent to be carted off the field, to a rumored $10,000 payment from linebacker Jonathan Vilma to the man that could knock Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship game.
Looking back Favre was pummeled, even tweeting a picture of his badly bruised, swollen ankle that required surgery in the off-season.
The penalties for this “program” are likely to be severe, and even ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes the Saints to be headed towards an unprecedented level of discipline.
"A safe prediction: Saints will be disciplined far worse than the Patriots were for Spygate. — Adam Schefter"
Gregg Williams, who is no longer with the Saints after joining the Rams, may face suspension and multiple fines.
Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and the Saints franchise will likely also be fined heavily fined, and suspensions could be brought down by the league for multiple games.
But for the Saints, a team in some flux already, the harshest penalty could be the forfeiture of draft picks in the 2012 NFL draft, and perhaps even the 2013 NFL draft.
New Orleans currently has no first round pick in this years draft after trading it away to the New England Patriots to draft running back Mark Ingram 28th overall in 2010.
That already leaves them down one pick, and now perhaps two or more depending on what commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA thinks is just punishment.
The Saints aren’t re-building per say, but with a new defensive coordinator and the possibility of losing Marques Colston and Carl Nicks looming large, they could have plenty of holes on the roster that need to be filled before the start of the 2012 season.
Regardless of how it all plays out though this situation is an unprecedented violation at a time when the NFL has become much more safety conscious than ever — thus, the situation may require unprecedented punishment and the Saints could pay dearly.