Saints' Player Suspensions Handed Down By NFL

NFL Sidelines Four Saints' Players For Bounty Program

5/2/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Jan 14, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith (91) warms up before the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. San Francisco defeated New Orleans 36-32. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIREAs I mentioned earlier with Vilma, Anthony Hargrove would most likely be trying to knock out whoever had the ball whenever he got the chance, regardless of if a bounty program was in place or not. The fact that he "participated" doesn't bother me in the slightest, unless if by "participated" he means "funded." The fact that he lied to the league is not a big deal either. I understand that it's morally the right thing to do and all that, but you have to look at it from his perspective. Hargrove is a part of this defense run by two captains who endorse a bounty program; they are the leaders of this defense and this team. Hargrove ratting out the Saints' defense would have been like Big Pussy telling the FBI about Tony Soprano's airline ticket scam, and look where Big Pussy is now. Maintaining the trust of your teammates is huge in football, and it is completely understandable that Hargrove didn't want to be "that guy" who ratted out the team. Personally, I'd give him somewhere in the 2-4 game suspension range. It's tough to blame him, but you also can't let players get away with lying to the league.

As for the investors in the bounty program, I really can't defend them, especially Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma. Those two were the captains and leaders of this defense, and by endorsing a bounty program they were setting a bad example for all of the young players on the Saints. The coordinator may call the plays, but the captains are the leaders and role models for the team; you can disagree with your coordinator, but you better not disagree with your captain. The fact of the matter is that these players weren't put into this system (as Hargrove was), they were the framework of it, and for that they deserve to be punished severely.

I hope that Hargrove wins his appeal, especially considering he got a worse punishment than two of the players who funded the program. I hope Vilma gets his suspension reduced a couple games, because a full season does seem a bit harsh, but I don't see the NFL backing down on the three players who pledged money to the program. I thought there would be more suspensions dished out for players who took hard shots at the allegedly "hunted" quarterbacks (i.e. 
Bobby McCray), but I guess the NFL wanted to attack this situation at the root - the players who started and funded it.
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5/6/12   |   tagshovlin

Was there any explanation why Hargrove was penalized more? And shouldn't it be the coach who is punished?  Now the Packers are being punished!