What if New Orleans had been successful? What if the bounty the Saints put out on opposing quarterbacks had been collected? What if the Saints had knocked Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Minnesota's Brett Favre, Arizona's Kurt Warner or Carolina's Cam Newton out of the game?
What if they had knocked Newton out for two games, or five, or the season? How would you feel if your guy, the biggest star the Panthers have ever had, no longer was able to perform because of a deliberate cheap shot?
The NFL punished New Orleans severely Wednesday for its bounty program. The NFL in effect put a bounty on the Saints.
The league suspended head coach Sean Payton for a year and suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. The Saints forfeit two second-round draft picks and lose an assistant coach for the season and the general manager for half a season.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down hard to the Saints, and he should have.
Professional football is rough. But to offer a reward to take a player out of the game is stupid and unethical and undermines the credibility of the game. And for coaches to be aware of it, or be part of it, or condone it, or look the other way?
The Saints offered $1,500 for a knockout and $1,000 for a cart-off. Hurt a player so badly that he has to leave the field and earn cash and, what, frequent cheap shot points?
There have to be ethics and there have to be rules and the Saints knowingly and willingly violated them. They got what they deserved.