Sean Payton will be suspended from the New Orleans Saints for the year. Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely, leaving the St. Louis Rams without their new defensive coordinator. The fruits of the bounty scandal—bountygate, if you want to be that way—are here, and they're as brutal as anyone was expecting. At first it might seem like the Saints and especially the Rams have been roughed up for the crimes of their employees, but this kind of thing isn't accurately pinned to an individual; what happened here is institutional corruption, and only the punishment of those institutions can combat it.
The case for punishing the Saints should be clear enough—the NFL knows who knew what when and for how long. But the Rams, too, were complicit in this. I'm not calling Jeff Fisher a liar when he suggests the Rams didn't know about the bounty program, but I am skeptical of that claim, especially given the apparent magnitude of this problem. I think it's more reasonable to say that maybe they didn't want to know what was going on, and didn't look especially hard.
That kind of willful ignorance has costs. The Rams are going to bear some of them.
More bountygate coverage from SB Nation St. Louis:
- The Saints' braintrust couldn't escape the effects of the bounty scandal, no matter where they were.
- The bounty scandal reminds us that the NFL is an ugly game—and we should be sure we want to see how the sausage is made before we go too much farther into the factory.
- However long his suspension turns out to be, the Rams should fire Gregg Williams.