Yesterday Hans put together a good read detailing the potential disciplinary action the league might take on the Saints and the individuals involved, which is expected to be meted out before the owners meeting at the end of March. All signs are pointing to this becoming a bloodbath.
It's damn near guaranteed that fines will be handed out like lollipops. Hundreds of thousands of dollars most likely for Gregg Williams, Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton. Players will probably be fined as well.
And you can bet there will be suspensions for coaches and players. Long ones. The only questions are who exactly was involved and how many of them will be suspended? The NFL investigation findings claim that between 22 and 27 players were involved. What would happen if a large majority of those players were suspended all at the same time? Half the Saints defense would be out of commission.
Then, of course, there could be the loss of draft picks. Considering the league took the New England Patriots first round pick for Spygate, I'm sure a similar fate awaits the Saints, if not worse. Hey, why not take them all?
But as damaging as those sanctions may be, they might not be enough. Because this latest incident fits a dangerous pattern the Saints seem to be setting in recent years, of acting as if the rules don't apply to them, and it's beginning to seriously affect the team in a negative way.
How else can you explain the blatant audacity of Mickey Loomis, not only lying to NFL officials during their initial investigation into a bounty system but by also failing to obey direct orders from his boss, team owner Tom Benson. The only two explanations of which I can think: either Loomis is insolent or just plain stupid. Neither is a trait I want in my team's general manager.
And this isn't the first time Mickey has been accused of lying to the league and to his employer. Remember 2010's Vicodin scandal? Aside from being accused of altering drug records to protect Sean Payton's theft of narcotics, it was also alleged in that lawsuit that Loomis had not been entirely truthful with Mr. Benson about situation.
Since the day after winning Super Bowl XLIV, the front office has given the appearance of an arrogant franchise operating above the law and outside the rules, doing much to destroy all of the good will earned during that magical season. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Whether it's snubbing the media, employing known felons or running up the score, the Saints are unwisely acting as if they're untouchable.
Which is why, as a fan, I am completely torn. I love Payton and Loomis. Together they are a damn good head coach/general manager combo, quite possibly the best in the league, and the two most responsible for making this franchise what it is today, giving the city of New Orleans it's first ever championship. Regardless of how they run the show off the field, they put an absolutely superior product on the field. But Loomis lied to his boss and Payton did nothing to stop the program. In situations such as this, it's sometimes best to simply eliminate the offending parties.
Do I want there to be any shakeups in the Saints front office as a result of this recent bounty scandal? Absolutely not, we've got a good thing going here in New Orleans. On the football field, at least. But if Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis or any other member of the organization is going to continue to put the franchise at risk, it might be time for the team to head in another direction, as difficult a decision as that may be.