On Wednesday, the NFL came down hard on the New Orleans Saints organization, head coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis, and Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams for the parts they played in the “BountyGate” scandal.
Commissioner Roger Goodell was very heavy handed in dealing with those that broke the rules, and stomped upon the competitive spirit of the game, and he hasn’t even gotten to the players yet. The odds seem good that those penalties will be quite stiff, as well.
However, the league can punish those guilty of the infractions all they want, but there is still going to be an empty feeling for those that were on the receiving end of the wrongdoings.
On two relatively recent occasions the NFL has punished cheaters while simultaneously providing the “victims” with reparations as an attempt to make up for the transgressions.
Earlier this offseason, the Cowboys and Redskins were punished for “dumping” salaries into the uncapped year after the league warned all the teams not to do so. In response, the NFL slashed the Redskins salary cap by $36 million over the next two years. The Cowboys lost $10 million. The Saints and Raiders were also caught doing this and were punished to lesser extents.
Additionally, the remaining 28 teams were each awarded $1.6 million in additional cap space.
In 2008, the 49ers were caught tampering with Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, and had to surrender their fifth round Draft selection that year. The Bears also had to swap third round picks with the Niners, which meant the Niners got to move up five slots in that round. It wasn’t much, but it was a slight concession for being the victim of a practice commonly acknowledged (and practically accepted) in the NFL.
So, here we are, facing the biggest known case of cheating since Bill Belichick’s 2007 “SpyGate” scandal and it appears that the NFL has every intention of dropping the idea of offering reparations to those affected by the Saints bounty program.
This is not totally unexpected, but still disappointing, to Vikings and Cardinals fans that feel their teams paid the highest price for having to play the cheating Saints in the postseason and seeing their starting quarterbacks unfairly beat down on the playing field. There is a precedent, and it could be perceived as a reasonable expectation, that both of these teams (and probably others) should receive some sort of compensation.
Depending on how far law enforcement officials may want to pursue the individuals who, by all appearances, committed criminal acts against their fellow players, it is possible that the individual victims receive reparations in return eventually.
The 31 organizations that were possibly robbed of an honest chance to compete for a Super Bowl victory should each be receiving compensation at the Saints expense.
At least that is the opinion of this lone hack blogger.