But was it fair?
If anyone wants resolution, it is the New Orleans Saints fans.
If anyone are the victims here, it is the ticket holders and the ever-faithful who were in the stands when the Aints bags donned the heads and who put up with a band of misfits for what seemed like eternity-frozen over, until the team finally fielded a winning season.
It seems somewhat odd that a different NFL commissioner’s office who stood up for the city after Katrina, forcing Tom Benson to return to the hurricane-racked city instead of playing elsewhere, is now feeling the pressure to severely punish the city for bountygate.
Of course, fans of other teams would nothing better than for the Drew Brees-led team to become dismantled despite claims that other teams have been doing the bounty game for years.
Without doubt, having a bounty on any player like the type charged by the NFL against the team is despicable. Those involved should be punished and punished certainly and severely.
Also, the NFL should take preventive measures to ensure behavior like this never occurs again—not by the Saints, not by any other team, ever.
But the concept that the team should be punished by suspending coaches, executives and players and taking away draft choices simply makes no sense.
Why should the fans be penalized when they had absolutely nothing to do with bounties or bountygate or any other gate.
While the practice of punishing the teams has been in existence now for years, that flagellation of sending a message to the players and to the league is actually and absolutely cruel punishment even if it is business as usual.
The bottom line is the fans are free from guilt. We are just as shocked and outraged by the bountygate scheme as anyone else and perhaps even more so since the players and coaches are ours and so is the embarrassment.
Punishing the fans for the acts of the players and coaches (and even the administration) is akin to punishing parents for crimes committed by their adult off-springs.
Society would not allow this type of retribution, nor should we.
Instead, the NFL should hae punished Payton, Loomis and future players involved where it really hurts—ever so deeply and in the pocketbook.
It should have made the penalties commensurate with the crime.
If the Saint engaged in this disgusting behavior, or if he knew about it and failed to report it, he should pay a severe fine and one that really stings, not simply chump change to those who make more money than all of the ticket holders combined in some of the sections of fans within the Dome.
Make no mistake about it. The New Orleans Saints are no Saints here. Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have admitted their guilts. So has Gregg Williams, now with the Rams. Their wallets should have been so thinned that they and others would never think about being so greedy and foolish.
Sting such as in taking away a substantial part of their salaries for one year or more and donating the money to a worthy charity.
Surely there have been players suspended for drugs, for misbehaving on the field and for poor sportsmanship. There have also been fines without punishments.
So, since the Saints staff has been suspended (with more to come) or if draft choices are denied, it will be nothing new. That’s the way the NFL has been playing the game
But, it is simply wrong to impose the real hurt against the fans, those who have loyally supported the team and the NFL, whether the perpetrators are the Saints or any other franchise.
If the owner wants to teach the players or coaches a lesson by suspending or firing, that would be the owner’s prerogative. If the owner is culpable, then the team should be fined handsomely.
The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell could have stood above the fray and made a new day for the league by making sure the wrongful acts are paid for significantly by the wrongdoers not the faultless bystanders.
Getting into the trenches and ultimately bleeding the fans put the Commissioner’s office and even those beckoning for the team and city to be punished and humiliated might make for harsh medicine. But the ones really choking unfairly are those with no voice in the process who are suffering the indignities in silence.
by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of Bayoubuzz.com