In disturbing news that has blown the lid off our Friday afternoon, nfl.com has posted a story stating that the NFL has completed an investigation that revealed 22-27 defensive players of the New Orleans Saints participated in a 'pay for performance' program that included payments to injure players on opposing teams.
And you thought all we had to worry about this weekend was Drew Brees's contract situation. I wish that was still true.
Make the jump for more...
It first broke via the Twitter account of Adam Schefter, and Big Boss Dave, as usual, was right on it with a quick post.
Soon after, nfl.com had the story linked to above, with much more detail...
After a lengthy investigation conducted by the NFL's security department, the league announced Friday that 22 to 27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints maintained a "pay for performance" program that included "bounty" payments administered by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The program runs in violation of league rules, and the investigation showed that Saints players received $1,500 for a "knockout" hit and $1,000 for a "cart-off" hit with payouts doubling or tripling during the team's three playoff appearances. The program also entailed payments for interceptions and fumble recoveries, which also violates league rules against non-contract bonuses. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine the appropriate discipline based on the investigation, the league said in a statement.
Goodell spoke thusly:
"The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,' but also for injuring opposing players," Goodell said in a statement released by the league. "The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity.
"It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it."
Here's how it started:
Goodell said the investigation began in 2010 after allegations were made that the Saints defenders had targeted Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during their 2009 run to the Super Bowl.
"Our security department interviewed numerous players and other individuals," Goodell said. "At the time, those interviewed denied that any such program existed and the player that made the allegation retracted his earlier assertions. As a result, the allegations could not be proven. We recently received significant and credible new information and the investigation was re-opened during the latter part of the 2011 season."
And it seems it's not all on GW:
The investigation found the program was funded primarily by players and at one time might have reached $50,000. The league also said that other defensive coaches in addition to Williams, now the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator, were aware of the program.
The report found that Saints head coach Sean Payton was aware of the allegations and did not make any inquires and failed to stop the program. The league also said that general manager Mickey Loomis at one time was directed to end the program when team owner Tom Benson was made aware of the league's findings, and he did not carry out Benson's directions.
Then the article discussed what we used to think was just a bunch of "bs":
The Saints have gained a reputation in league circles as a dirty team in recent years, and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said this past season that the Saints targeted his high left ankle sprain.
"I felt like it kind of got overboard," Peterson said at the time. "I got up and kind of got in his face. Thank God I was able to keep my composure."
The Saints denied Peterson's claims.
Tom Benson released this statement, that I found on nola.com:
"I have been made aware of the NFL's findings relative to the "Bounty Rule" and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans."
No denial, no explanation, no apology. I don't much like it. And I despise this whole thing, too.
It sickens me to think of Saints players playing this way, and to think of players and coaches knowing about it and not stopping it from happening. GUH.
This is a big fat hairy complicated deal. It goes deep, and we should prepare ourselves for the worst as this continues to unravel.
At this time, no consequences have been determined, and tweets have already started comparing or not comparing this to the Patriots' "Spygate" scandal...
RT @wwltvsports: #Saints could face fines, suspensions and a possible forfeiture of picks. Goodell has told the Saints he has jurisdiction
I'm hearing comparisons to Spygate here. I wouldn't compare them. Both really bad. But for very different reasons.
So, that's what I have for now on this big news of the day.
Let's discuss this below, and know that your CSC beat reporters will keep you informed of details as this story unfolds...