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|Black eye for Saints|
Anything that ends in gate nowadays is usually not a good thing.
For New Orleans Saints fans, bountygate is the Grinch to NFC playoff game wins and the Super Bowl past.
After the Saints' loss to San Francisco in the playoffs, most New Orleans fans were ready for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to exit stage left.
Now, Elvis could not have left the building any quicker.
Williams left New Orleans to be with his friend Jeff Fisher at St. Louis after Fisher was named head coach of the Rams.
He left a black eye as well, as last week it was revealed that during Williams' tenure, the Saints ran an illegal "bounty fund" which paid players for causing injuries to opponents that would result in those players leaving the game. Williams has admitted not only knowing of the program, but participating in it as well. There have been accusations of the bounty scheme having taken place under Williams in Washington as well.
I was shocked to hear about it, but I am even more shocked it took this long to come out. Seriously, no former player tweeted or wrote on Facebook about it?
Even more seriously, Jeremy Shockey did not talk about it before the former Saint faced his former team as a Carolina Panther last season?
And, yes, I know, these are big boys now. And we all ooh and aah at big hits and ESPN plays them over and over again.
Rex Ryan even talked in his book about how he'll take a big hit over a any other kind of play because it can change momentum and sends a message to the other team.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler Kordell Stewart tweeted, "Bounties have been apart of the game for decades and won't stop. In Pittsburgh Hines Ward had many on him...you can't stop it. Just don't get caught. Not saying it's ok cause it's not, but it's part of the game."
I also have to admit I was hoping for one of those bounty shots on Seattle's Marshawn Lynch when he was running all through the Saints two years ago, and even on Alex Smith when he was holding the football up after scoring the winning touchdown against the Saints last season.
But to go out with the intention of hurting somebody bad enough to have them carried off the field and winning a pool because of it, that's crossing the line.
In the outstanding documentary on Joe Namath recently shown on HBO, there were clips of Namath taking some unbelievable shots that would draw flags from all over the field nowadays.
Near the end of his career, the fragile quarterback was being brought down as if it were a backyard game of tackle football, as defenders did not go for the kill shot like they did earlier in his career.
I'm not saying put dresses on quarterbacks or flags on ballcarriers, but there's a big difference between a clean, hard hit and a cheap shot.
I root against Detroit's Ndamukong Suh because he is such a dirty player.
The sad thing is that he would have fit right in under Williams as the Saints' defensive coordinator.
The person I feel sorry for the most is new New Orleans defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
The Saints' defense will be critiqued each week next season and you have to wonder about how much the bountygate will affect the players' aggressiveness.
The other thing I hate is that bountygate overshadows the Saints' absolute insult of not agreeing to terms with Drew Brees.
Serously? You can't pay Drew Brees what he wants?
The Saints placed the exclusive rights franchise tag on Brees on Saturday, a sign that contract negotiations between the two could drag on longer than hoped.
Eventually, the Saints and Brees are still expected to reach a long-term contract agreement that likely will make him the NFL's highest-paid player. The two sides have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal. And because the Saints used the exclusive rights version of the tag on Brees, he will not be allowed to negotiate with any other teams.
Brees kept saying he was "very optimistic" a deal could be reached before Monday's franchise-tag deadline. So were we.
Although the Saints could have used the franchise tag on another one of their free agents if they had signed Brees to a long-term deal, they obviously didn't feel like that was enough incentive to rush into a deal. And there were indications that they were not planning to use the tag on any other players regardless.
Brees has repeatedly made it clear, however, that he was hoping to avoid the franchise tag. And he almost certainly will decline to sign the Saints' one-year franchise tender offer, which is expected to be worth around $16 million.
That could mean Brees would miss the team's offseason workout program, including on-field activities in May and June, if a deal is not worked out by then. The ultimate deadline will be July 16. After that date, franchised players can only sign one-year deals.
Brees will immediately cost the Saints roughly $14.4 million against the salary cap until late April, when the number is expected to jump closer to $16 million.
That figure will be determined by the average of the top five quarterback salaries in the NFL after this year's free-agency period, and it could be affected by new deals signed by free agents such as Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn.
The Saints will try to save every dollar they can against the salary cap. They are expected to be about $6 million under the salary cap after Brees' tender is accounted for.
We're talking a guy who, during last year's lockout, began planning workouts when the likelihood of a lockout progressed from possible to probable. He contacted Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson in March to use Tulane's facilities for voluntary practices.
Brees designed the program to mirror the Saints' regular offseason conditioning program and organized team activities. Other than the no-contact policy, the workouts are almost identical.
Brees asked his longtime personal trainer Todd Durkin to fly in from California and oversee the conditioning program.
Brees arranged for the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine to provide insurance to the players who needed it. He coordinated with Dickson to make Tulane's video room available for study sessions.
He also came in with an open wallet. Brees took the cost upon himself for most of the expenses, including the cost of the Tulane staff as well as the insurance and lodging of some of the team's young players, who can't afford the extra expenses without the workout checks and bonuses they normally receive from the team.
And we can't pay this guy what he wants? This guy who stays long after practices signing autographs and is involved in so many different charities around New Orleans.
Bountygate is not the only black eye over the Superdome.
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