Joe Knows

Sean Payton can apologize all he wants. Gregg Williams can say he meant no harm.

But the head coach and former defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints felt no remorse the first 50-plus games they oversaw a bounty program which led to a Super Bowl win.

Because these Saints, as we all know, are anything but.

Payton intentionally misled league officials. Williams has probably ran such a system since Pop Warner ball.

If anything, the league’s punshment was not harsh enough.

After an NFL investigation looking into allegations that the Saints ran the “play-for-pain” program for each of the past three seasons, the sinners saw their beloved leader recieve a one-year suspension and the franchise lose second-round picks in the next two drafts.

When the ugly details of the program began to came out, Saints supporters immediately slapped down the “everybody-does-it” card.

While I don’t doubt this is true, I am hesitant to believe that such a well-organized and elaborate program is usually initiated by a coach, let alone one as high up on the chain of command as the defensive coordinator.

I can’t for the life of me imagine the Steelers’ Dick LeBeau, after reading “The Night Before Christmas” to his defensive players in a grandfatherly voice, spring up from his chair and declare, “if you cut the snake’s head off, the body will die,” a favorite maxim of Williams. All of this while fanning a wad of $100 bills.

Besides, when has this defense ever been valid?

Try this one on the cops the next time you’re caught exceeding the speed limit among a group of other vehicles speeding by.

However, perhaps the most foolish-looking party in this whole debacle is not the Saints, but the NFL.

It is now clear from recent revelations that following Hurricane Katrina, the league was so intent on constructing a feel-good story, it was willing to overlook whatever atrocities its subjects of charity were committing on the field.

As it happened, the league’s tunnel vision was only the width of Bourbon Street.

While I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I do believe New Orleans’ compelling story coupled with Drew Brees’ nice-guy persona had an influence when the guys in black-and-white stripes kept the yellow laundry in their pocket during the Saints’ playoff run.

 

JOE CUNEO

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