Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
I can sum up how I feel about bounty fest in one simple sentence; It's made me so mad I want to rail at someone for ruining the best Sundays in the fall I've ever had but I'm not sure who deserves it more.
Sean Payton is a great candidate to focus some anger on. The arrogance, which helped him win a Super Bowl, just might burn his coaching career to the ground. How delusional and reckless was Payton? He went full Richard Nixon Watergate cover-up mode on something the NFL would have treated as minor traffic violaton if he'd have just come clean after the 2010 season.
Roger Goodell, if the Saints had admitted the bounties existed after the 2010 season, probably would have taken a 2nd round draft pick and maybe suspended Payton a couple games.
Bad? Definitely. The NFL still would have made a huge deal of it to do the whole, 'We take player safety very seriously' song and dance but it wouldn't have been the circus it is now. Congratulations Sean, you turned a routine traffic stop for a minor violation into a car chase involving the entire police department, TV station helicopters, and CBS breaking into the Bold and the Beautiful to cover it live. Well done.
If you are wondering if I have anger towards Mickey Loomis, I do but Sean Payton runs the Saints and if he wanted the bounties stopped they would have been. If he had told Joe Vitt to come clean to Goodell it would have been done. Hey Sean, you must have missed every political scandal of the last 30 years to think YOU could pull off lying and keep everything in the closet away from the light of day.
The only thing worse than the feelings of rage I get when I see video of Payton on NFL Network is my strong urge to vomit any time Roger Goodell opens his mouth.
Look Roger, I get you are petrified because injured ex-NFL players are dropping lawsuits all over you and billions of dollars are at stake and the NFL has to look like they care about player safety.
Then along come the Saints at the perfect time. They took something teams have been doing since football started and were dumb enough to leave an extensive paper trail and lie about it. This is the moment you've been waiting for to cover the NFL's backside against lawsuits and scream, 'We care about players! Look what we did to the Saints!'
Except you don't really care about players at all. If you did why are you pushing for an 18-game regular season where players bodies will face eight more quarters of the NFL meat grinder? Why have you expanded the Thursday Night game NFL Network package and forced players to play games with less recovery time? I thought player safety was the #1 issue?
Remember kids, with the NFL money is always the number one issue and if Roger Goodell has to maybe ruin one franchise to protect the billions for the other 31 teams so be it.
Right after the bounty scandal broke I wrote this:
March 2, 2012 will be known as the day the party ended. If you think the Saints will come out from the bounty disaster resembling anything close to the 13-3 championship contender they were at the close of 2011 you are fooling yourself. This scandal is about to rip the Saints apart.
I've never wanted to be more wrong but I'm not. Sheriff Goodell still has NFL justice to dole out to the players so expect another stomach punch to our fall Sundays.
Goodell is all about public relations and if you think he wants the New Orleans Saints anywhere near the Super Bowl next February you haven't been paying attention. The player suspensions are going to be his final strike to make sure that doesn't happen. It's nothing personal he has against New Orleans and the Saints. It's just business. Can't have the bounty fest stories over take the Super Bowl can we?
As a fan all I really care about is Sunday and the last six years it's been the best we've ever had. Shame on you Sean Payton for thinking you were smarter than everyone else and the rules of honesty didn't apply to you. Shame on you Roger Goodell for throwing the book at the Saints so you can smile and pretend the NFL's number one concern is anything other than money. And shame on you both for maybe ruining New Orleans fall Sundays. Instead of feelings of excitement for September all I have is anger over the mess you've created.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.