Recording dooms Saints' appeals

Recording dooms Saints' appeals
April 5, 2012, 3:18 pm
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Weve now read the Yahoo.com story and heard the audio on Gregg Williams speech before the Saints-49ers playoff game which is the smoking bazooka in BountyGate. Put simply, the Saints got off easy.That said, we need to remember that if this had worked, if the Saints had beaten San Francisco and then the New York Giants and New England Patriots, the National Football League would never have let any cats out of this particular bag.Oh, Williams would have been retired, in that wonderfully euphemistic way that HR departments have of greasing the disobedient. And the team would have been quietly fined. And nobody anywhere would have been the wiser.REWIND: Saints punished for bounty program
But Sean Payton would have skated again, because the league would never tolerate a two-time Super Bowl winner and supergenius being publicly rebuked for something they were trying to keep on the down-low.In short, the 49ers did the league a huge favor. Alex Smith is owed a huge solid, and heres hoping now that hes been given the back of the business hand in his latest contract that someone sees fit to take care of him.Those two late scores took out New Orleans, freeing Roger Goodell to muster enough owner support to drop a bag of hammers on Tom Benson and his perpetually defiant football staff. And if you think Paytons appeal wasnt damaged by this story, youre drunk way too early.And maybe thats why the story got out. A leak to a leak to a leak to Mike Silver of Yahoo, who is not one prone to cheerfully be used by the authorities, only helps the league and hurts Payton.Then again, Payton would have been appealing his sentence to the same cop who pulled him over, so he didnt have a lot of chance anyway. This might have just been the warning shot to shut him up preemptively because the league is willing to do that, too.RELATED: Payton, Saints appeal suspensions
And frankly, while this definitively finishes Gregg Williams, it also points out how the NFL handles employees who go fingers-up to the big man. Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and by extension owner Tom Benson essentially told the league office to screw itself on BountyGate by doing nothing to change their behavior.And that is the real crime that is being punished here. Just as USC got the works for crossing the NCAA, the Saints took theirs because the weight of 31 billionaires is far greater than the weightlifting power of one.Payton is being punished not so much for his arrogance but for his cavalier dismissal of authority (and it explains why Al Davis saw such good in him). He told the league to slag off, and the league reminded him of who runs the Department of Slag.Indeed, the meeting between him and Goodell would have been a short one.Commissioner, I present today my appeal for . . . "First, stop speaking. Second, let me ask you something, you little weasel. Who do you think youre screwing with? I pick guys like you out of my teeth when I floss. I should double the year you already got and dare you to take it to court. Cross me again, and youll be volunteering to run Pop Warner fundraisers in the Okjlahoma panhandle. Appeal denied. Get out. And apologize to my secretary for soiling the couch you sat in.And then hed sit back and wait to see if Payton can hire enough lawyers to fight the league. Which he cant. Another uneven fight won by the NFL.But thats how it works in the real big leagues. Payton fought the law and the law won. Williams is one of the sidekicks in"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" who buys it in the gunfight, but Payton is definitely Liberty Valance.Who, by the way, also buys it in the movie.But for those of you who believe in tradition,. Never fear. The bounty system will never go away. Itll just become more surreptitious. It wont be advertised. Itll work just the way it always has, only on the down-low.And thats all the NFL really wanted here for the Saints to shut up about it. But Gregg Williams couldnt, and Sean Payton wouldnt, and Loomis wasnt going to buck his superiors by going to his other superior.But Alex Smith screwed them all. If there isnt some lifetime job in the league for him because of this, then the league really is filled with ingrates and brutes.Oh. I forgot. It is.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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