Feb 1, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief wears his Super Bowl champions ring during a press conference prior to Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Mutiny on the Bounty: Packers nearly hired Saints' Williams, Payton

Though New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton wasn't directly involved in the bounty scheme, he didn't stop it when he learned about it. Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Today’s news that the New Orleans Saints players and coaches were involved in a bounty payoff system in which money was pooled and exchanged for various on field actions is disturbing … especially in light of the fact that defensive coordinator Greg Williams and head coach Sean Payton were nearly hired by the Green Bay Packers before they took over in New Orleans.

While bounties are hardly something that’s not been a part of football over the past century, today’s announcement by the league is the first such case in recent memory. Given the incredible amounts of money paid to these athletes, it’s unusual to see this type of behavior occurring in the NFL.

According to published reports, Williams is said to have helped manage the scheme and that while he wasn’t directly involved, Payton didn’t stop the action when he was told about it. Williams was a finalist for the Packers’ defensive coordinator’s job a few years back before Green Bay hired Dom Capers and Payton is known for saying he really, really wanted the Green Bay head coaching job before the Packers hired Coach Mike McCarthy.

What will happen with the Saints is not known, but the league clearly has its sights on some sort of punitive action.

League commissioner Roger Goodell will determine the appropriate punishment.

He had this to say today:

“The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players. The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity.

“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.”

But to say other teams, including the Packers, haven’t had this type of behavior associated with their franchise would be naive. A few years ago, Charles Woodson and Al Harris were accused of offering bounty dollars to defensive linemen if they held Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson below 100 yards. Though accused, coach McCarthy said at the time the Packers and the league handled the matter.

One might go back a few more years and remember the name of Charles Martin and his body slam of Jim McMahon – though many felt McMahon deserved it.

So, how this latest chapter of NFL football follies will end remains to be seen. It has certainly caused a ruckus that won’t soon be forgotten.

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