- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Speaking at an appearance at a youth football event in Canton, Ohio, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media and talked about the New Orleans Saints’ bounty situation.
As he’s done several times, Goodell disputed admissions by the Saints that they ran a pay-for-performance program and firmly said they ran a pay-to-injure program. Goodell said it’s not simply a matter of semantics and said the league still has plenty of evidence that hasn’t been released.
But there’s one item near the bottom of the story that really jumped out at me. I think it’s something that a lot of people tend to forget about, even though it’s extremely important. The league has said all along that the Saints ran a bounty program for three seasons. The league also said it told the Saints to cut out the program during the 2009 season and that the Saints didn’t cooperate with league investigators at first.
Hmm, anybody else think that might have been a huge factor in why the Saints were punished so harshly?
"Sure, the fact that they said it didn't happen and they continued to do it is certainly a big issue," Goodell said.
I can’t speak for Goodell. But my personal opinion is that if the Saints had cooperated with the league right from the start, we probably never would have spent every day since March hearing about a bounty program. In fact, we might never have heard a word about it. At worst, there might have been a few small fines.
But I think the fact the league believes it was repeatedly lied to for three years is a major reason why it cracked down so hard on the Saints.