Saints or Sinners

Once one of the saddest franchises in NFL history, the New Orleans Saints used the addition of QB Drew Brees and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to rally them to the pinnacle of football glory. In 2010 they won the Superbowl and seemed to right the wrongs of 30 years of mediocrity. But what was a story of tremendous retribution has recently been tainted by some disturbing allegations.

Former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams renowned for his "win by all costs" mentality may have cost the organization its integrity. From 2009 -- 2011 he implemented a pay-to-injure program which awarded $1,000 for forcing an opposing player to the sideline, and $1,500 for removing him from the game completely. The NFL is one of the most dangerous and physically demanding professional sports leagues in the world, but there is an element of "controlled rage" amongst the carnage. Pain and intimidation are the building blocks of the sport, but only when displayed tastefully. The sportsmanship and camaraderie of the league creates an unwritten code of ethics. One that ensures no malicious intent be present while competing. Mr. Williams and the Saints have completely violated this code.

Nevermind the salary cap, and violations of the NFL constitution, cash incentives for purposely injuring opponents is simply and utterly despicable. A total disregard of the values and tradition of the sport. In a league where 90 percent of contracts aren't guaranteed how could one player so willingly jeopardize the livelihood of another?

Of the twenty seven players accused of participating, Linebacker Johnathan Vilma is taking most of the scrutiny. During the 2010 NFC Championship game he allegedly placed a personal $10,000 bounty on the head of Vikings QB Brett Farve. Following a suspiciously illegal looking hit from Anthony Hargrove in the third quarter Favre was actually forced to leave the game due to an ankle injury. Hargrove was then overheard on the sideline yelling "Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! FAVRE IS DONE!" Hargrove denies ever being paid for the hit, but warranted skepticism still lingers.

As a fan I don't want players of that caliber wearing my team's jersey. You should be giving maximum effort on every play simply for the sake of winning! I don't like the idea of Injurious intent or questionable cash incentives being the motivation for athletes I root for. Why is $1,500 enough to inspire such ill will anyway? The multi-million dollar contracts and signing bonuses aren't enough?

The target on QB Drew Brees' back will now undeniably be larger than ever, so how karma plans on punishing them might be a bit more interesting.