Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Bet Sean wished he never left Leicester!

Maybe I'm getting old but I don't think I can recall a time when an NFL head-coach was suspended without pay for an entire season, the fate that has been dished out today to the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl winning playcaller Sean Payton for running a 'bounty' system.

No, not a system of rewarding players with a 'taste of paradise' for scoring touchdowns, or some sort of job commissioned by Jabba the Hutt, the Saints 'bounty' system was a reward system for players intentionally harming opponents and trying to knock them out of games.

Payton, believe it or not, played the 1988 season in England as a quarterback for the Leicester Panthers, before coming back to the USA before the end of the season to become a coaching assistat at San Diego State University.

He went on to serve a further 8 seasons in the college ranks, before becoming the quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997, working alongside offensive coordinator Jon Gruden (yes the same Jon Gruden who went on to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their one and only Super Bowl win).

Following stints at the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, Payton got his first head-coaching gig when he took the reins at the New Orleans Saints in 2006. Within four years he had led the Saints to a Super Bowl win.

The Super Bowl win was a truly remarkable feat considering before Payton arrived the team had a grand total of ONE, yes ONE playoff win in their entire history (a 31-28 Wild-Card win over the St Louis Rams in 2000).

Peyton has taken the Saints to the playoffs in four of his six seasons in charge, winning five playoff games and only having one losing record (7-9 in 2007). The Saints 37 regular season wins over the last three regular seasons (2009-2011) are the most wins in a three year span in the team's history.

Peyton is now gone for 2012, along with his former defensive coordinator Greg Williams (now with the Rams), who has been suspended indefinitely for the 'bounty' system, which between 2009 and 2011 provided players, according to the NFL executives that issued the suspension, with $1,500 per player knocked-out and $1,000 per player carted off the field of play (both doubled or tripled in the playoffs).

Now I have never played for an NFL team, let alone been in an NFL locker room (I have been in an WLAF - World League of American Football locker room in 1992 but that is a whole other story) so I am only hazarding a guess, but I suspect the Saints are not the ONLY team in the entire league to have run a 'smack you in the head for money' bonus system.

Past and present players will want to keep mum about any kind of 'skull-crush for cash' scheme, much like they wouldn't mention about how to fiddle a urine test, how to poke a player in the eye during a pile-up or how to wear non-regulation uniform, it's just the Saints have been caught with their pants down.

The Saints have now put a blot on their Super Bowl win, joining the Spy-Gate Patriots as teams that will now have their Vince Lombardi trophies viewed as slightly grubby, even after it had been polished after all the players had put their sweaty finger-prints all over it during the winners ceremony and subsequent victory parade in their home town.

For Sean Payton he can join the rest of us, coaching a Fantasy NFL team and maybe even a Madden franchise as he takes a year to think about what he has done.

Super Bowl to suspension in three years, maybe this is one giant storm that Payton will not bounce back from?

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