Need a shot of hypocrisy in your Friday morning coffee or latte? Feeling like all is right in the world and you just can't stand it? Well, take a gander at what Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said the other day about our Saints' so-called "bounty" program, which as you know was a pay for performance system so reportedly diabolical that it gave the ghost of Heinrich Himmler raging wood. Bisciotti described the practice as despicable.
"I think it’s despicable," Bisciotti told BaltimoreRavens.com Monday. "And I know that [Saints Owner] Mr. [Tom] Benson feels the same way. So I feel sorry for him.
"Speaking from an owners’ perspective, I want to say it could happen to anyone of us and I wouldn’t know."
Really, Steve? It could happen to you and you wouldn't know? Surely this would never happen with your Ravens, right?
Bisciotti said he didn’t have to make a call to make sure nothing like that was going on in Baltimore.
"It didn’t get that far because the call would have gotten to me," Bisciotti said. "John [Harbaugh] and Ozzie [Newsome], they’re in charge. If there was something that I needed to know, they would have called me."
Let's look at this a little more closely.
But first, let's see what else Steve had to say:
The mere possibility of a bounty system doesn’t make sense to the business-minded Bisciotti.
"I think the whole idea of trying to incentivize these guys $500 and $1,000 when some of these guys are making $200,000 to $500,000 a game [doesn’t make sense]. How can $1,000 incentivize a guy to take out a guy’s knees or to knock helmet to helmet? The kid is going to get fined $25,000, so that’s a net loss."
"I’m pleased with the thoroughness of the league’s investigation," Bisciotti said. "I’m sure New Orleans wishes the penalties weren’t that severe."
Head Coach John Harbaugh also supports the league’s decision. He said Payton is a great friend who he worked with in Philadelphia in 1998.
"I think he’s a great coach and he’ll be back winning a bunch of football games," Harbaugh said.
"But I respect what the league did, I respect what Roger did. It sends a strong message, it’s smart, it’s courageous and it’s the right thing to do. I know one thing, me, like everyone else, will fight like crazy to make sure that that’s not an issue in the future. But it’s an important statement to make and player safety is the No. 1 issue. Integrity of the game is important."
Player safety is the No. 1 issue? With the owners' desire for an 18-game season and their recent vote to change regular season OT rules, I'm calling bull**** on that.
Maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing here and maybe Steve was being sincere. Nevertheless, I must point out the comments made by Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs in 2008 when he openly commented while on an Atlanta radio show about the bounty he and his teammates had on Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Did you all put a bounty out on that young man [Mendenhall]," Suggs replied, "Definitely. The bounty was out on him and the bounty was out on [Ward] -- we just didn't get him between the whistles."
Pretty damning statement, right? Well, wait a minute, Suggs apparently just misspoke. (Yeah, right!)
"There wasn't any bounty," Suggs said, according to the newspaper. "He [the talk show host] asked me if there was a bounty and I just said I'm going to keep a watch on the guy. He [Ward] broke some guy's jaw last week, and he tried to cheap-shot JJ [Jarret Johnson]. He has also cheap-shotted Ed Reed. We're just going to be on alert the next time we play him."
He further clarifies here.
"When I did the ["2 Live Stews"] radio show in Atlanta, that's what I meant and I thought that's what I said," Suggs said, according to the statement issued Friday by the Ravens. "I did repeat the word bounty early in the interview after the guy asking me the question used the word. That was a mistake. I misspoke, and I'm sorry for that. "
Those articles say the league investigated Suggs' statements and issued a warning of disciplinary action. Maybe they did take it very seriously and give it a thorough review just like they did for the Saints. We'll never know for sure, but I am sure those who are all too willing to now accept Roger Goodell's word about the Saints will be more than happy to do so for this and any other "bounty" allegations concerning other teams. It's clear and obvious that the league already has its patsy and has no need to make examples out of any other franchises.
I'm not saying Sean Payton and the Saints are innocent. Based on what they've admitted to, which is much less than the league and media would like you to believe, they should have been smarter and do deserve some punishment. The "Believers" out there can think they got what they deserved and that's fine, but no one should suggest this is something only the Saints did. There's proof stating otherwise, but you would never know it unless you look really hard for it.
For example, PFT did a post this morning on Bisciotti's Daffy Duck-style despicable statement, but of course didn't bother to mention Suggs' past statement on "bounties." Few national sports media outlets have. PFT made this comment:
Bisciotti’s claim that Benson feels the same way is bolstered by the league’s statement on bounty discipline for the Saints, which notes that the coaching staff chose to "maintain the program despite express direction from Saints ownership that it stop."
But if Benson feels as strongly as Bisciotti that bounties are despicable, it’s surprising that Benson didn’t fire Payton for disobeying his direct order to bring the bounties to a halt.
They and many others apparently won't be satisfied until Payton is fired and winds up living in a cardboard box somewhere. But, you know what? F*** EM'! Sean Payton can sometimes be an arrogant A-hole with delusions of grandeur and he's clearly pissed off a lot of people in his time, but he doesn't deserve all of this. Those who appreciate what he's done for New Orleans, it's once pathetic team, and its fans need to rally around him and not buy too much into the hype. This will someday fade away and I'm confident, almost Sean Payton-esque cocksure and arrogant confident, that more will come to light about sports "bounties," the league's investigation, and what was actually going on in Saints meeting rooms that will make clear that his 1-year suspension was a terrible injustice.
Bisciotti and other owners can pretend "bounties" never happened on their watch and in their meeting rooms, but I suspect they know otherwise and only feign shock and disgust when the cameras and microphones are in front of them.