Commish Outdoes Himself: Payton’s Suspension Excessive; Where Was Belichick’s?

least today is a day where I do not feel alone.

am joined now by tens, even hundreds of thousands of loyal Saints fans in my
abhorrence of Roger Goodell. He has inflicted a black mark almost as thick as
“Bountygate” has on the Saints franchise and the city of New Orleans.

coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year, while defensive coordinator
Gregg Williams – now in the same post with the St. Louis Rams – is out
indefinitely. A franchise that brought so much joy to its city in winning its
first Super Bowl in February 2010 is now looked upon as the evil stepchild of
the NFL.

yet, I can’t help but ask myself, in light of these heinous allegations: But
did the Saints actually cheat? And the answer, of course, is no.

actions on the field can be sanctioned by the men in striped shirts (what are
they called again?). Officials. If a player does something questionable that is
not flagged during a game, the league can gladly fine him.

issue at play is the morality, and in no ways am I defending what the Saints
did. In the words of Seinfeld lawyer Jackie Chiles, it’s egregious, outrageous,
preposterous. Ethically speaking, they have gone from Saints to Sinners.

is ultimately responsible, as the one person on the team’s coaching staff above
Williams, for putting a stop to it, and he didn’t. He deserves to be punished,
although this unprecedented one-year suspension is excessive. Williams should
be suspended for the season, not indefinitely.

there are few out there that can argue that Sean Payton has been nothing short
of a godsend to the city of New Orleans. There is not another city – save maybe
for Green Bay – that is more closely tied to its football team than New
Orleans, and if you didn’t feel good for the city and weren’t a Colts fan in
2010, you simply didn’t have a heart.

of course, is going to instantly draw comparisons to “Spygate” when you discuss
recent NFL scandals. The New England Patriots were known to have been cheating
not just in a season-opening game against the Jets in 2007, but for all of Bill
Belichick’s tenure in New England, which began in 2000.

to talk about “integrity of the game,” commissioner? Three Lombardi Trophies
under a black cloud smells of corruption and then some. The game’s supposed
coaching genius somehow was the only person on the planet that “misinterpreted
the rules” that everyone else in the business knows like the backs of their
hands? Come on, now.

what was Belichick’s punishment? Suspension? Stripped of those titles in
question? Nope, just a slap on the wrist. Essentially, a fine and a draft pick,
which is small potatoes to a team constantly drafting at the end of the first
round. (For the record, in that 2008 draft, Goodell’s punishment was rendered
useless because the Patriots actually owned the 49ers’ top selection, which
they used on Pro Bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo.)

way I see it, what the Patriots did was illegal and what the Saints did was
immoral. The Patriots committed burglary, vandalism and theft while the Saints
used their grandmothers’ handicap pass to get a conveniently-located parking
pass. Immoral, but technically not illegal.

I am not at all defending the Saints’ actions. The fans, while not abandoning
their beloved team, need to realize that the team brass’ decision to sweep this
under the rug was nothing short of appalling. But as many disgruntled
radio-show callers have pointed out, New Orleans has become the scapegoat for a
practice that has been ongoing for years, even decades, in the NFL.

some would argue the same about the Patriots. “Spygate” was nothing more than a
simple practice that teams do to gain a competitive edge. But filming a team’s
walkthrough the day before the Super Bowl, which turned out to be one of the biggest
upsets of all time? Common practice my you-know-what. And lest we forget, that
happened more than five years before they were busted for anything.

Payton, who has been one of the great poster-child coaches for the NFL, is
suspended for a full season for turning a blind eye to Williams’ wrongdoings.
Bill Belichick, disliked by virtually everyone outside the New England region, makes
a mockery of the game and a flaw in the system for years and walks off scot-free.

Roger Goodell, you have outdone even yourself this time.

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