|Michael Lombardi on D&C: ‘There’s a sense of arrogance on the part of the Saints’||03.06.12 at 12:22 pm ET|
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Saints defense bounty scandal that is rocking the NFL as well as the possible punishments and repercussions that could result from it. In a story on NFL.com Sunday, Lombardi likened the bounty scandal to that of the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon and the White House in the early 1970s. Lombardi elaborated on that idea on air, saying the source of the money for the bounty pools could extend farther than originally thought.
“The bigger issue here is the Bounty-gate stuff, really, it shouldn’t be in place, but the reality is, it’s a cap circumvention as well,” Lombardi said. “Where’s the money coming from? You’ve got Mike Ornstein who is in the building, who’s really not an employee. He’s part of a marketing branch. Are they helping give money to put into the pool? I think it is like Watergate in the sense that if you follow the money, I think you’re going to lead to a trail that’s really not what the commissioner thought initially when he investigated it.”
One of the sticking points of the scandal is that although the team was warned about the practice, it did not stop it. Once Saints owner Tom Benson was reportedly made aware of the bounties, he allegedly told general manager Mickey Loomis to put an end to it, but the team continued to run the bounty system against the wishes of its owner and the league. In the wake of the allegations, many have wondered whether Loomis will be able to remain the general manager job in New Orleans. Lombardi said he doubts Loomis will remain employed by the Saints.
“I was told reliably by somebody intimate in the league office is the only way he keeps his job is if Benson fights for him,” Lombardi said. “And it seems to be, yesterday there was a report coming out of New Orleans that Benson was going to support both Loomis and [coach Sean] Payton.
“I find that hard to believe because if Benson is going to support Loomis, then basically, he’s supporting insubordination. Now he’s saying to everybody in the organization, ‘Don’t listen to what I say. Just do whatever the heck you want to do, because I’m going to keep Loomis in place.’ So I think it’s going to be hard for Mickey to keep his job. I know it’s going to be difficult for him to be able to weather this storm.”
Lombardi also noted that the controversy could be an example for players of how the NFL will punish management wrong-doings in addition to punishing players. The punishments meted out in this scandal will be all the more pertinent because of the recent labor dispute between the players and management that almost led to a lockout this past season.
“This is one of the situations where every player in the league is looking at [Roger] Goodell to see exactly what standard he’s going to utilize in terms of he’s been tough on the players,” Lombardi said. “Let’s see if he’ll be tough on management of the teams. And most players take the attitude of, ‘Well, the owner and the commissioner are in bed together. Therefore they won’t go as hard.’ I think that’s the one thing that’s going to hurt the Saints in this case. Goodell is going to be above and beyond that.”
|National media sounds off on Saints’ bounty system||03.05.12 at 3:35 pm ET|
Never without controversy lately regarding issues of rough play and player safety, the NFL has another scandal on its hands as a league investigation found that the Saints were guilty of a wide-reaching system of payments to defensive players from former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for knocking out star offensive players on opposing teams.
The system of bounties reportedly involved between 22 and 27 players and spanned from 2009 to 2011. With the information now at the heart of discussion surrounding the NFL, many have begun to opine on what should happen to the Saints and how player-conscious NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will punish Williams and the Saints franchise for their transgressions.
Sports Illustrated NFL writer Don Banks wrote that because of this bounty system, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton face the most trouble of anyone in this saga.
Wrote Banks: This one stinks, NFL fans, and the stench goes top to bottom in the Saints organization. New Orleans can’t realistically make everyone pay with their jobs. There will be league fines and likely suspensions. But for Loomis and Payton, the accountability should be at a level commensurate with their responsibility. They were in charge of this show, and they know what comes with being the men at the top.
You get the credit and the blame. And this time, there’s nothing but blame to go around.
While Banks wrote that Loomis and Payton will undoubtedly be in trouble and could face the threat of losing their jobs, ESPN NFL writer Ashley Fox takes it a step further — she feels that the two men should be fired for their involvement and lack of action in helping prevent Williams’ payment system.
Wrote Fox: According to the NFL’s report, when [Saints owner Tom] Benson directed Loomis earlier this season to ensure that any bounty program be discontinued immediately, Loomis did not follow Benson’s directions. “Similarly, when the initial allegations were discussed with Mr. Loomis in 2010,” the report continued, “he denied any knowledge of a bounty program and pledged he would ensure that no such program was in place. There is no evidence that Mr. Loomis took any effective action to stop these practices.”
If the NFL’s report is true, Loomis defied a direct order from his owner. That is grounds for dismissal. And Payton was no better.
For others, though, the issue of the Saints’ bounty system extends far beyond a single team. Greg Couch of Fox Sports believes that those behind the bounty system in New Orleans should undoubtedly be punished, but that the culture of the NFL is also to blame in all of this.
|Kraft and Benson: Ringing in at dinner time||08.11.10 at 2:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There was plenty of jewelry to be shown off on Tuesday night when Patriots owner Robert Kraft sat down with Saints owner Tom Benson.
Kraft’s Pats won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX while Benson’s Saints are the defending NFL champs having conquered the league in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
“You can be very proud of what you’ve done down there in New Orleans,” Kraft told Benson.
Then Kraft shared a little bit more of his dinner talk with Benson.
“I was trying to pick his brain to learn how to sell automobiles and run banks and build a Super Bowl team in this decade,” Kraft said. “So it was very good. He said he hoped we could both play each other again this year, and there’s only one way that can happen, and that would be in your neighboring state of Texas. I hope he’s prescient.”
Super Bowl XLV will be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX on Feb. 6, 2011.
As for the here and now, Kraft said Wednesday he is liking a lot of what he is seeing in camp so far this summer.
“This is great. Seeing the crowd here,” Kraft raved. “I know it was great for our guys to go up against another great team here. It tested our offense, defense and special teams to go against the Super Bowl champs. We got a lot more out of this practice than we would have if we had not done something like this, and I hope it’s something we continue over the next few years.”
After two days of practices against each other and scrimmages, the Patriots and Saints kick-off the preseason on Thursday night at Gillette with the game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, On the eve of his induction to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was again recognized for his work beyond the gridiron on Wednesday. Kraft recalled a dinner at his Brookline home in 2009 when John Hannah paid tribute to Cunningham as a man who opened up football to African Americans in the deep south of Alabama.
“What will always stick out to me about him was what he did for integration in the South,” Kraft said. “At our 50th anniversary ceremony, it was very poignant and he hadn’t been back here since he left and we had a party in our backyard and John Hannah and he are there and John Hannah said, ‘Sam Cunningham did more for integration than Dr. Martin Luther King in that area’ because when Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant brought him into the locker room after they had been beaten by USC and said, ‘This is what a real football player is.’ That made it appropriate for all people of color in that neighborhood to start playing football.”
WEEI.com’s Christopher Price has more on what Cunningham can offer Laurence Maroney besides just his Patriots No. 39.
Hannah was an All-American at Alabama under Bear Bryant while Sam Cunningham ran for USC in the years immediately following O.J. Simpson. Cunningham was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame on June 14 and will be inducted as part of ceremonies prior to Thursday’s game with the New Orleans Saints.
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