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Tag:Tom Benson
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:55 pm
 

More nuggets on Saints' bounties come to light

Gregg Williams wasn't the only one to get hooked by the NFL on the bounty pools in New Orleans.  (AP)
By Josh Katzowitz

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has an interesting story on the NFL’s investigation into the pay-for-performance ring* instigated by about two dozen Saints players and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and some of the details that are unearthed are worth noting because it’s the first we’ve heard of them.

*I will not call it Bounty-gate. I will not call it Bounty-gate. I will not call it Bounty-gate. 

First off, read the first two paragraphs of the story, because it paints a tremendous picture of how the rewards were distributed in front of the entire defense and how, sometimes, the Saints would urge the honoree to put the money back into the pool instead of accepting it.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Aside from that chilling color, here are few more nuggets reported by King.

-During the 2009 NFC title game vs. the Vikings -- played in January 2010 -- in which New Orleans defensive linemen Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodel high-lowed Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre and badly spraining his ankle, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, after Favre temporarily left the game, excitedly proclaimed “Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! Favre is done!”

As King also writes, “An on-field microphone directed toward the sideline caught an unidentified defender saying, ‘Pay me my money!’”

-As we know, the investigation was halted for lack of evidence -- because everybody involved basically denied the bounty pool’s existence -- but it’s interesting to note how the NFL began looking into it in the first place. After the Vikings playoff game, Minnesota officials informed the league that it had information that a bounty had been placed on Favre and a bounty had been placed on Kurt Warner the week before.

Williams, Hargrove and assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt all denied the allegations, and apparently, the investigators told Saints general manager Mickey Loomis to make sure there was no bound program. Loomis said he would.

Obviously, he didn’t. Which means he not only apparently lied to his boss but he also apparently lied to NFL officials. When the investigation started up again in last season’s playoffs, Saints owner Tom Benson told the NFL he would contact Loomis to make sure there was no bounty program.

-King also talked to Scott Fujita, who’s been very active on the player safety front. And who happened to be a big-time contributor (between $2,000-$10,000) to the bounty pool in New Orleans.

"Over the years I've paid out a lot of money for big plays like interceptions, sacks and special teams tackles inside the 20,” Fujita told King. “But I've never made a payment for intentionally injuring another player."

Still, paying into a bounty like that sort of clouds the message of player safety, doesn't it?

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:17 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:50 pm
 

Payton, Loomis take 'full responsibility'

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have promised never to allow a bounty program in their organization again. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Since the Saints bounty program news broke last Friday, New Orleans coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have not commented. On late Tuesday  afternoon, they broke their silence, releasing a joint statement through the Saints PR department.

Basically, Payton and Loomis are taking full responsibility. 

Here is the statement:
We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility.

This has brought undue hardship on Mr. (Tom) Benson, who had nothing to do with this activity. He has been nothing but supportive and for that we both apologize to him.

These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game. Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.

Mickey Loomis & Sean Payton

You’ll recall that Gregg Williams also apologized in a statement last week, saying, “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the 'pay for performance' program while I was with the Saints. It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”

It is interesting, though, that the only person to whom they apologize is Benson. Not to Roger Goodell or the fans or the players that might have been physically hurt by the bounties.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:10 pm
 

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

According to the NFL, New Orleans coach Sean Payton didn't try to stop the bounty program, while owner Tom Benson, center, did try but ultimately failed.  (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

In a stunning announcement, the NFL has released the news of an investigation into a team-wide bounty program in New Orleans in which at least one coach and about two dozen players conspired to intentionally hurt opponents and knock them out of the game for money.

Between 22 and 27 players, and at least one assistant coach maintained this “pay for performance” bounty program, violating league rules in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

And the knowledge of the program reaches all the way into the owners box. Saints owner Tom Benson -- who was cited by the league as giving his “immediate and full cooperation to investigators” -- told general manager Mickey Loomis to end the program immediately when he became aware of it in 2011. According to the NFL, “the evidence showed that Mr. Loomis did not carry out Mr. Benson’s directions. Similarly, when the initial allegations were discussed with Mr. Loomis in 2010, he denied any knowledge of a bounty program and pledged that 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.”

According to the NFL, the funds of the bounty pool -- to which players regularly contributed and which was administered by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the Rams -- might have reached as high as $50,000 during the 2009 playoffs. If a player knocked out an opponent, they received $1,500. If an opponent had to be taken off on a cart, a player was paid $1,000. Those payouts could double or triple during the playoffs.

“Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Vikings,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Our security department interviewed numerous players and other individuals. At the time, those interviewed denied that any such program existed and the player that made the allegation retracted his earlier assertions. As a result, the allegations could not be proven. We recently received significant and credible new information and the investigation was re-opened during the latter part of the 2011 season.” 

The NFL also found that coach Sean Payton was not a direct participant in the bounty program but that he didn’t make an attempt to learn about it or stop it when NFL investigators began asking about it.

Now, it’s up to Goodell to dole out the possible punishment. He has told the Saints that he will hold more proceedings and meet with the NFLPA and individual player leaders to discuss the appropriate discipline.

The league notes that “the discipline could include fines and suspensions and, in light of the competitive nature of the violation, forfeiture of draft choices. … Any appeal would be heard and decided by the commissioner.”

Said Goodell: “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.”

Here's Benson's statement on the matter: "I have been made aware of the NFL's findings relative to the 'bounty rule' and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans."

For what it's worth, here is one of the last attempts of Warner's career.



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Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:54 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 10:23 am
 

Report: Saints, Brees $5M apart per year on deal

GM Mickey Loomis reportely thinks Brees is a 'very good' quarterback. (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

We're 12 days away from free agency, and the Saints and franchise quarterback Drew Brees are "roughly $5 million a year apart" on a new contract, according to Yahoo.com's Jason Cole.

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman said as much Wednesday, adding that the differences could lead New Orleans to franchise Brees. It's an odd way to treat the guy primarily responsible for saving the organization in post-Katrina New Orleans. The same guy, by the way, who is two months removed from breaking Dan Marino's single-season passing record, and two years removed from leading the Saints to a Super Bowl.

All this prompted Freeman to ask: "What the hell are the Saints doing?"

Fair question.  "I've said this before," Freeman continued. "There are certain players, only a handful, where you open the vault and roll out the cash. You give them a blank check. Brees is one of those players. Franchising Brees is going to anger him, no question. Players despise the tag because it limits their earning potential. So you've ticked off your best player. For what? Why?"

Because, in an inexplicable turn of events, the Saints, according to Cole, are "privately trying to sell itself on the notion that Brees is simply a 'very good' quarterback."

Oh my. A quick refresher: between 1967 and 2005 (the year before Brees arrived), New Orleans made the playoffs a grand total of five times. In 38 years. They've been to the postseason three times since, including one Lombardi Trophy.

Cole writes Thursday that the "very good" quarterback meme "was the word coming out of the NFL scouting combine this past week, when Saints general manager Mickey Loomis tried to define Brees as 'very good' when the quarterback was called “great,” according to three league sources. All three sources were asking Loomis why it was taking so long to sign Brees to a contract extension. Loomis’ answer spoke volumes."

Cole thinks Loomis' foot-dragging will necessitate owner Tom Benson stepping in to fix things. Fortunately, he remembers what the pre-Brees Saints were like.

“Benson knows where this team was 15 years ago and he sees where it is now. He has to make the call. Mickey is not going to do it," a league insider told Cole.

This also means that the team can't move forward with Marques Colston or Carl Nicks, two important pieces to New Orleans' high-powered offense. It's likely that Colston will hit free agency while the team will franchise Nicks (not surprisingly, he's against it), but this assumes that a Brees deal gets done before March 5 (the last day a team can use the franchise tag).

The latest news coupled with the Colston/Nicks situation prompted CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco to tweet this:

PriscoCBS
Just a thought: If Drew Brees really is Mr. New Orleans, shouldn't he get a long-term deal done so others can get signed?
3/1/12 8:03 PM

PriscoCBS
Having said that, If Brees is smart he won't do it.
3/1/12 8:03 PM

Whatever happens, the Saints have to sign Brees. Because without him, this team will be our early favorites for the Matt Barkley sweepstakes. (Hey, it worked for the Colts!) By the way: if Brees is "very good," what does that make backup Chase Daniel?

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 7:32 pm
 

Saints coaches 'appalled' by NFLCA appeals brief

Posted by Ryan Wilson

A brief recap of This Week in Lockout News:

Wednesday: The NFL Coaches Association filed an amicus brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the players' request to lift the lockout.

Thursday: The Redskins' coaching staff issued a statement clarifying their position relative to the NFLCA brief: "We stand united with our ownership and the brief does not reflect our thoughts on the matter." NFL Network's Albert Breer reported that 17 members of Washington's staff signed the letter, although head coach Mike Shanahan wasn't one of them.

Friday: The Saints became the latest team to speak out against the NFLCA brief, this time without the PR filter written statements usually provide.

New Orleans linebackers coach Joe Vitt said Saints' assistants were "appalled" by the NFLCA's decision to file a brief, the Times-Picayune's Mike Triplett writes.
"It was awful presumptuous on their part that they would represent all the coaches on our staff," Vitt said of the NFLCA, which is led by former NFL assistant Larry Kennan, who served as the Saints' tight ends coach in 1995.

"We're supporting the owners," Vitt said. "I've said this a million times, our organization has been built on trust. (Owner Tom) Benson has been great to us. Unequivocally, we support our ownership."
Therein lies one of the problems with the NFLCA not representing all NFL coaches. As Triplett points out, coaches can choose to belong to the union, and Vitt said that Saints' assistants collectively agreed not to join back in 2006. So just because the NFLCA issues a statement (or in this case, files a brief), there's no reason to expect solidarity among the coaches. There's no executive director in the mold of the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith who, like him or not, has the players mobilized behind the "decertify and let the courts sort it out" strategy.

Another, bigger problem: communicating clearly. Kennan, appearing Friday on Sirius XM NFL Radio, told co-hosts Jim Miller and Alex Marvez that "I emailed all the coaches to tell them we were going to do this. However, I didn’t do a very good job of communicating with the Redskins. … It kind of caught them blindsided. Before they had a chance to read the Amicus brief and see that it was strictly about being for coaches, they panicked a little bit and maybe got some outside pressure to do something.”

Also worth noting: Kennan made his comments before Vitt spoke out against the NFLCA to the Times-Picayune.

Kennan continued: “If there were a whole bunch of teams [protesting], I’d be concerned. I’m not concerned about one. I know what happened there. They didn’t have all the facts. A lot of us make decisions because we’re in a pressure situation and get caught up reading about something and don’t have all the information.”

Perhaps. But in two days since the filing, two coaching staffs have come out in support of their owners. If the 'Skins and Saints are any indication, it's reasonable to think other staffs will be coming forward soon, too.

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Hot Routes 3.20.11: Light upset with Kraft



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Here’s an update on former Patriots DE Jarvis Green and whether he’s going to continue playing football. Right now, he says he’s “in between.”
  • Should Broncos QB Tim Tebow (or Kyle Orton, for that matter) be worried that Denver’s front office – which holds the No. 2 pick in next month’s NFL draft – is checking out Jake Locker, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallett? Maybe, but probably not.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 9:07 am
 

The NFL still dealing with Super Bowl fallout

Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl XLV (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you thought the NFL’s biggest problem emerging from Super XLV was Seatgate and having to deal with about 1,200 upset fans whose tickets basically were irrelevant for the start of the game, the Philadelphia Daily News has a slightly different take on why the NFL could be in even more trouble than previously thought.

According to columnist Paul Domowitch, it wasn’t just the fans who were screwed by the NFL. It was also the league’s owners and executives, the halftime performers and, most importantly to the league’s bottom line, the game’s sponsors.

Jerry Jones' stadium did not fare well at Super Bowl XLV (Getty). The newspaper writes that the A-list Tailgate party was an unmitigated disaster with some sponsors having to wait in line for more than two hours to get into the event. And that was if they could even figure out where they were supposed to go to get to the party.

Apparently, some of the executives who had to wait in line – including those for FedEx and Castor Motor Oil – have threatened to yank their sponsorship (though you’d have to think having their name associated with the NFL is worth a little more than a little inconvenience for one day).

The owners also were promised gift certificates to Dallas-area stores and the free use of limos, but when Rita Benson LeBlanc – the granddaughter of Saints owner Tom Benson and the heir to the team – arrived in Dallas, she was told that the limos were only for principal owners. That, to say the least, did not go over well with Benson.

Domowitch also goes on to describe how poor the sound system was for the halftime show and how league executives were upset they had to give up their seats in order to accommodate the fans who were displaced by the stadium's lack of preparation.

So, what does all of this mean? Domowitch explains:

To make a long story short, you can bet your DeSean Jackson Fathead that somebody, and maybe more than one somebody, is going to be thrown under the bus for the debacle in Texas 2 weeks ago.

If you're looking for likely fall guys, you can start with Eric Grubman, the league's executive vice president/business ventures, and Frank Supovitz, the league's senior vice president/events, who essentially were in charge of Super Bowl XLV, if you don't count the guy who owns the stadium they played the game in, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. And Jerry's not going anywhere, except into seclusion. If Grubman's and Supovitz' names both still are on the league's staff directory in 4 months, I'll be shocked.


But despite all the problems, you can bet the Super Bowl, once again, will return to Dallas.

There’s too much money on the table for the NFL not to return. Even with all the problems – in part because of the snow, the Metroplex’s inability to deal with it and the distance between Dallas, Forth Worth and Arlington – the money is really the only figure that matters anyway.

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Posted on: June 26, 2010 1:29 pm
 

Saints Reply to White House Rumor

Pro Football Talk suggested that the Saints delay in visiting the White House could be related to owner Tom Benson’s right-leaning politics. Greg Bensel, head of Saints PR, called that “crap”.

Jeff Duncan on Nola.com clears the rest up.

"Mr. Benson is excited for our visit to the White House," Bensel said in an email. Benson, he said, "is not only eager to attend the White House celebration but is also eager to get the 2010 season started."

The Saints reportedly have scheduled their trip to coincide with a preseason trip to the Boston area. The Saints play the New England Patriots in an exhibition game on Aug. 12.

Bensel said the Saints' White House visit has been scheduled for months. He said White House officials were in charge of the event and thus responsible for releasing the date and other information surrounding it. The Saints, he said, are simply following their direction.


--Andy Benoit

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Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com