“Bountygate” possibly taints Saints’ Super Bowl win
The NFL’s investigation regarding the use by the Saints of a bounty program began after a Super Bowl run that featured big hits on Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.
“Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Vikings,” Commissioner Goodell said in the league’s release announcing the determination that the “bounty” rules had been violated. “Our security department interviewed numerous players and other individuals. 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.”
That “significant and credible new information” possibly came from a former Saints player or coach with direct knowledge of the bounty program.
In the 2009 division-round playoff, Warner took a wicked (but clean) post-interception hit from Bobby McCray. The following weekend, the Saints repeatedly battered Favre in the NFC title game.
The fact that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams administered the program didn’t prompt him to be discreet. Before Super Bowl XLIV against the Colts, Williams said of Peyton Manning, “We’re going to have to do a good job of finding ways to get to him and when we do get to him we’re going to have to make sure he gets a couple ‘remember me’ shots when we get there.”
As the 2010 regular-season opener against Minnesota approached, Williams generally said, “We have to send messages to every offense about how physical it’s going to be when they play us. Those messages are out there, starting with No. 4.”
The league’s announcement that the Saints violated the “bounty” rules sends a clear message to the Saints and every other team regarding the fact that such activities won’t be accepted. But what message does this entire situation end regarding the Super Bowl victory the Saints earned at the end of a playoff run fueled by extra payments for injuring opposing players?
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