It’s been a very bad week to work for the P.R. department of the New Orleans Saints.
First, the Saints have to try to justify their position of paying free agent franchise QB Drew Brees like a “very good” quarterback and not like a “great” one. And yes, that’s something their general manager has actually said. Considering how beloved Brees is in New Orleans, you can only imagine how well that statement has gone over.
But now comes something even worse.
The NFL has recently announced that the Saints have been caught running a “bounty” program in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. Basically, 22-27 players and even some staff members contributed money to a pool. Money from that pool was given to players who injured opposing players. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs. Saints defensive coordinator (and former Bills head coach) Gregg Williams administered the program.
In a statement released by the league, Commissioner Roger Goodell asserted, “The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players.”
This apparently is an old Williams trick, as he reportedly ran a similar system when he was defensive coordinator of the Redskins. No confirmation yet if he had a bounty system in place as coach of the Bills.
Williams was apologetic in a statement released today:
“I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the ‘pay for performance’ program while I was with the Saints. It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”