While we discuss the extent of the penalties imposed on the Saints so far by the NFL let’s also look at NFL precedent for what the violations should be.
But before I go into the details of previous incidents, I would like to first point out that I have not heard a single Saints fan say that New Orleans should not be punished at all. And for full disclosure, I am a lifetime Saints fan. We just think that the penalty does not match NFL precedent.
NFL Argument 1: Player safety is important to the NFL. I will not debate that fact as I do think the NFL is concerned about player safety when it fits their needs.
The players have long argued that an 18 game schedule will cause an increase in injuries yet the NFL is proceeding with their push for an 18 game schedule.
But putting aside those arguments we will look at the 2 game suspension received by Suh of the Detroit Lions. This two game suspension came after three other previous fines issued by the league. League precedent has clearly been established. Violations regarding player safety carry increasing fines and could in a two game suspension as in the case of Suh.
Based on that fact, it would be argued that the Aaron Rogers bounty and the Cam Newton bounty carry 2 – 2 game suspension for a total of four games. The others from previous seasons should carry no penalty as the NFL in those cases chose to issue a warning to the Saints instead. Their is also precedent for a team just receiving a warning initially as with the Green Bay Packers.
But for argument sake, lets say Warner and Favre should count even though they were not handled by the NFL with anything more than a warning when they were discovered by the NFL. That means 4 -2 game suspensions maximum. Considering there were no initial fines handed down first, as is NFL precedent for violations regarding player safety, that would mean that should be the maximum.
So argument 1 says that they should have gotten between 4-8 games suspension as a maximum.
NFL Argument 2: They lied to the NFL.
We will refer back to first to Suh again. He told the NFL that he was not stomping on the arm. Roger Goodell did not believe him and later suspended him. No penalty for lying.
Next we will look at Spygate. The facts that people have forgotten is that in Spygate, the Patriots were warned in a previous season and were caught again later. The Patriots then began to lie and try to cover-up the violation. So now we have precedent for a head coach and team executive lying to the NFL and trying to cover up something that they were previously warned to stop. See the link below about the initial warning by the NFL and the Patriots not heeding that warning while trying to cover up their violations.
Belichick’s penalty for lying, covering up and refusing to obey previous warning from the NFL, $500,000 fine.
So now the Saints penalty should be 4-8 games max and $500,000 penalty.
When you really start looking at NFL precedent, you will see that according to the NFL’s own rulings, their penalty to the Saints is way out of line.
Next we will look at the other fact. It has been reported in numerous places that this also took place in Washington, Tennessee, Buffalo, New Orleans, Baltimore, Green Bay, New York Giants. But so far none of these teams have gotten the same penalties. In fact none of the other teams have gotten any penalties.
Below are the articles that establish where each of these teams had a bounty.
Ravens – http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3659317 Quote directly from the player.
Giants – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1036907-kyle-williams-dirty-giants-focused-on-49ers-returners-concussion-history. Quote directly from the player.
Green Bay – http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2012/03/nfl_investigated_green_bay_pac.html
Buffalo – http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/bills-nfl/article747663.ece
Tennessee and Washington – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1089200-tony-dungy-claims-tennessee-titans-had-a-bounty-on-peyton-manning
If nobody else gets the same suspension as the Saints when we have acknowledgement from players themselves on other teams, then it becomes clear that the penalty then has no basis in established NFL precedent.
Again, neither myself nor any other Saints fan thinks that the bounty is ok and should go unpunished. We just think the punishment should be inline with punishments of similar nature. We also think that since we are punishing teams that have a bounty system and other teams have been found to also have bounty systems as well that we should not share the punishment alone.
If the NFL is serious about this and wants to be considered a just Judge, then other teams and players will join us and the penalties will be brought back to reality of established NFL precedent.