Payton deserves to serve the time for the ‘crime’
For all you “Free Sean Payton” advocates out there, I have news for you.
Sean Payton got what he deserved.
The NFL says that Payton “falsely denied” the bounty program existed. The NFL report shows that Payton encouraged false denials by assistant coaches, telling them to “make sure they have their ducks in a row.”
In 2012, the NFL said it interviewed Payton this season, and he said he was “entirely unaware” of the program.
Two years ago, when the bounty allegations were first investigated by the NFL, all the Saints and Payton had to do was admit they were wrong and end the program. The Saints may have gotten a fine and perhaps lost a late-round draft choice.
The matter would have been over. Instead, the commissioner says, “Yes, we were lied to.”
What is truly sad about this sordid affair is that it has tarnished the reputation of one of the most talented head coaches in recent NFL history.
Payton is not only a terrific leader, he is an outstanding offensive coach. And both of those talents may pale in comparison to what Payton has done exceedingly well since he arrived here. And that is evaluate talent.
From Drew Brees to Carl Nicks to Marques Colston to Jahri Evans to Jimmy Graham, the Saints have piled on the good personnel decisions.
This offseason, as the Saints were pressed up against the salary cap, and with the bounty penalties looming, Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis scored in free agency.
The Saints replaced Carl Nicks with another Pro Bowl guard, Ben Grubbs, from Baltimore. They re-signed Colston. They also added two defensive starters, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley.
Based on the money available, the Saints hit a free-agent home run.
The Saints have it all. They have a talented head coach, a Hall of Fame quarterback and as exciting a product as any in the NFL. None of this bounty silliness was necessary.
If only Payton and his associates could have checked their cowboy attitudes at the door.
Instead, some in the “Free Sean Payton” crowd were also the first ones to call former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey on the carpet for allegedly being “the snitch” to the NFL in the Saints’ bounty program.
Shockey was fingered, wrongly, by former NFL defensive end Warren Sapp. On the NFL Network of all places. Shockey has demanded an apology, and rightly so.
In his post-NFL owners’ meeting press conference, Goodell hinted that one of the “whistle blowers” was not a player. Said Goodell to a questioner, “Who said it was a player?”
Rumors abound about just who that person or persons are. But it really makes no difference. One of the best coaches in the NFL is benched. And that benching is sadly of his own doing.