Two of the Saints' top defensive players, safety Roman Harper and defensive end Will Smith have been identified as potentially facing NFL discipline for their involvement in the Saints' bounty system.
NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reports that Harper and Smith were first and second in the team's sacks last season. They figured prominently in the league's investigation of bounties and face more serious discipline than most of their 22-27 teammates.
There have been no specifics reported about what kind of discipline other players, including Jon Vilma, are facing.After attending a meeting between NFLPA representatives and the NFL in New York, Saints quarterback Drew Brees reiterated that the league has not shown that a bounty system existed..
"We didn't get any meaningful evidence, or any meaningful truth or facts, said Brees, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network.
Many fans have responded to Brees' claims with a high degree of skepticism, given that he has a clear and direct interest in proving that there was no bounty system, wrote Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports.
"Not only would such a finding ensure that the Saints will have a full complement of defensive leaders like linebacker Jon Vilma this season, but it also would block the application of an unofficial asterisk to the team's Super Bowl win in 2009," wrote Florio.
Thus, Brees, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee, and the players' union would be better off by making the lines even more clear, allowing Brees to avoid a conflict of interest arising from his desire to keep his team competitive and his Super Bowl ring legitimate, and his duty to protect the players who were targeted by any bounties.STERN TURNS LAWYER: NBA commissioner David Stern used to be a lawyer, and on Monday he dusted off a common tactic utilized in depositions. Stern instructed the "witness," Saints and Hornets Tom Benson to not answer a question from a media member at a news conference, regarding the purchase of the NBA team. Ed Werder of ESPN tried to ask a question about the football team's bounty system and its contractual stalemate with Drew Brees. "I'm not going to allow Mr. Benson to answer that," said Stern. "This is an NBA thing and if ESPN has a problem with that, they can call me at my office." Saints linebacker Jon Vilma reportedly is expecting a wide-ranging sentence. According to Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network, Vilma expects to be sidelined from two to eight games.
Vilma was cited in information released by the NFL for putting up a cash bounty to knock quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC championship game and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Mondays in New York.
The Saints have depth at linebacker, signing Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne. These moves have created questions about the future of Vilma with the Saints.As if the things weren't bad enough for the Saints with unsigned Drew Brees not participating in the opening day of volunteer OTAs, NFL Nation came up with an NFL team-by-team strength of schedule breakdown.
The Saints' schedule could add more woes, judging by the difference in opponents' winning percentage. The Saints may not have the hardest schedule in the league, but the difference between last year's schedule and 2012's . schedule is the biggest differential in the NFL.
ESPN's John Clayton wrote that his studies of schedules over the years indicate that any change of .20 is worth a win or a loss.
Based on those numbers, the Saints could drop about three games from their 13-3 record last season, and that's not taking into account the losses on the coaching staff and potentially in defensive personnel. To make matters worse, it might be hard for the Saints to go 5-1 in what should be a tougher NFC South.
The schedule points to the possibility of the Falcons winning the NFC South. They have a minimal change from their 2011 schedule. They went 10-6 last season on a .480 schedule. This season, they have a .448 schedule. Their out-of-division opponents were 79-81 last season, which makes that portion of the Falcons' schedule -- 10 games -- about the 17th easiest in the league.
The Saints, however, play the sixth-toughest out-of-division schedule at 898-71. Like everyone else in the NFC South, the Saints play the NFC East and the AFC West, which just got tougher because of the additional of Peyton Manning.
Because the Saints won the division, they also draw the 49ers and the Packers, teams that had combined records of 28-4 last season.
That means the Saints' defense could face Manning, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman. Ouch.
Clayton wrote scheduling is one of the reasons we usually see a 50 per cent turnover in playoff teams every year. The South won the NFC South in 2009 and 2011, seasons in which they played the easiest schedule in the league. The Falcons won the division in 2010 because their toughest games were at home while the Saints' toughest games were on the road.
The Packers the second-easiest schedule, playing teams with that were 120-136. The Patriots have the easiest schedule at .453 and face only four teams with nine or more victories last season.SOME hither, others yon: Gregg Williams, identification furnished upon request, has been keeping a very low profile since the news surfaced of the bounty system, recently made an unexpected appearance in Wichita, Kan., assisting with the cleanup of a tornado that struck on Saturday. Williams is from Missouri....The Broncos have cut cornerback Andre Goodman, 34, and his $4.62 salary, and moved up former Saint Tracy Porter in his place...
Business Insider reports that a rumor has the Yankees could be bought for $3 billion as the Dodgers sold for $2 billion. Forbes has the Yankees valued at $1.85 billion. The Yankees grossed $435 million last season. i doubt if the Yankees will be sold. Why fix something that isn't broke?:...And, whatever became of George Shinn?...
The Coaches' Trophy from last season's Alabama 's BCS title was accidentally knocked off its podium by a player's father and shattered. The father's foot got caught on a rug that sits below the trophy display. The Waterford crystal trophy was on display in the Mal Moore Athletic Facility halls which has offices for Nick Saban and athletic personnel. Alabama will replace the $30,000 trophy...
by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff
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