I'll just get straight to the point here. We always knew they were dirty. The cheap shot on Steve Smith after he scored a touchdown against the Saints in Week 5 was enough evidence for us. (Of course, we are a little biased around these parts, but still...the fact remains that we knew they were dirty, but we didn't have sufficient proof of that fact.)
Well, we do now. The NFL has been investigating claims that the Saints have been participating in a "Cash for Injuries" program since 2009, and now they have released information from this research that shows the Saints have been conducting this brutal practice for several years now under former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams.
After a lengthy investigation conducted by the NFL's security department, the league announced Friday that 22 to 27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints maintained a "pay for performance" program that included "bounty" payments administered by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
If you're like me, you're not surprised in the least that this information has come to light. I'll be intrigued to see how the Commissioner rules in this case, since his Modus Operandi for the past several years has been making player safety the number one concern of the NFL. This scandal is clearly a violation of the NFL's rules regarding player safety (and it's also a violation of the basic rules that govern civilized humanity), and the Saints have violated these rules with what appears to be reckless abandon.
Read more after the jump...
According to the investigation:
The Saints players received $1,500 for a "knockout" hit and $1,000 for a "cart-off" hit with payouts doubling or tripling during the team's three playoff appearances. The program also entailed payments for interceptions and fumble recoveries, which also violates league rules against non-contract bonuses.
If that doesn't scream dirty then I don't know what does. This is a very serious matter, and it will have grave implications for the New Orleans Saints franchise. According to the league, Tom Benson -- the Saints' owner -- instructed this practice to cease, but Williams and the rest of the defensive coaches ignored this command. (If this is true it's going to go over real well with the league office. In fact, it could end up costing Williams his career.)
It makes sense why Gregg Williams left New Orleans now, because he probably knew the writing was on the wall and he wanted to make sure he got out of Dodge as quickly as possible to avoid any disciplinary action from the Saints. Well, I'm sorry Gregg, but you're not going to get away from this one. The league is going to come down on you, and they're going to come down on you hard. And frankly, you deserve every single thing you get.
Like I said before, I'm not surprised by this in the least, and if you ask me the Saints are an embarrassment to the NFL, and I'm personally ashamed to consider them part of the NFC South, which until now was one of the highest-regarded divisions in the league. And now, we have to live with the stain that the Saints will leave on the division due to their dirty behavior.
But on the bright side, at least we have confirmation of what we've known all along, and we're not the crazy conspiracy theorists everyone else thought we were.
So what do you think Panthers fans? Sound off in the comments section!