The penalties handed out today to various officials (or former officials) of the New Orleans Saints (with player penalties coming later) by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were absolutely justified, and remarkably similar to those I advocated here at the AmSpec a few weeks ago. My earlier understanding of the respective culpability of Saints GM Mickey Loomis and Saints Head Coach Sean Payton was approximately backwards (both culpable, but earlier reports had Loomis more culpable than Payton), and the ultimate penalties therefore were reversed. As for scofflaw defensive coach Gregg Williams, now with the Rams, he has been banned indefinitely rather than for life — but I believe the ban will, in the end, amount to a de facto lifetime banishment.
If I were Saints owner Tom Benson, I would fire Payton. Flat-out fire him. It’s almost mpossible to have an “interim” coach for a whole season, with the shadow of another coach, due to come back in a year, hanging over the whole organization. Plus, of course, Payton has correctly been adjudged to be horribly morally deficient. Remember that this isn’t his first tawdry episode: He also was accused of/reumored to be involved in a prescription drug scandal; and he has been associated publicly with a couple of questionable financial schemes or operators.
I also would not even wait for the league to sanction players; I would immediately order that middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma be released, and I would use the cap savings to help sign quarterback Drew Brees to a long-term contract (if he’ll even sign it, considering the scandal), and/or to aggressively seek a major pass-rushing specialist.
The likely result of this whole situation is that the Saints will fall back to mediocrity for a while. If so… well, so be it.
The Saints have been sinners. They deserve to be roasted.
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