NFC South: bounty scandal

Just when it seemed like the New Orleans Saints were having a calm, peaceful and quiet offseason, along comes this Washington Post story that could change all that.

It all stems from the alleged Vicodin scandal in 2009 in which a former Saints security director claimed two high-ranking members of the coaching staff were helping themselves to the team’s supply of the painkiller. A settlement was reached between the team and the security director.

But the Post reports that the investigation still is open.

The Post also cites sources close to the situation that say federal authorities still are weighing the possibility of a large fine against the Saints for violating laws pertaining to the proper storage, control and dispensing of prescription drugs.

All this comes at a time when it appeared the Saints finally were putting last year's bounty scandal behind them. Coach Sean Payton has returned from a season-long suspension, stemming from the bounty scandal.

Goodell: Saints fans innocent

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
2:17
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- The lightest moment of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s Friday news conference might have come when he was asked about the welcome he is receiving in a city where he’s Public Enemy No. 1.

Goodell
“I couldn’t feel more welcome here," Goodell said. “When you look back at my picture, as you point out, it is in every restaurant. I had a float in a Mardi Gras parade. You’ve got a voodoo doll."

Goodell has been viewed as a villain throughout the bounty saga. Turning more serious, he said that’s no surprise.

“I understand fans' loyalty is to the team," Goodell said. “They had no part in this. They were completely innocent in this. So I appreciate the passion. I saw that for myself when we were down here for [Hurricane] Katrina. It’s clear that's what they’re all about. I support the fact they’re passionate."

But Goodell emphasized the fact that not everyone was innocent, even though the player suspensions he ordered were vacated on appeal.

“Let’s make sure the record is clear," Goodell said. “The first penalties were vacated only briefly to make sure there was a distinction between what was a salary-cap violation and what was discipline on the field, which that body, as established by the CBA, made it very clear that it was the authority of the commissioner."

Goodell said he wishes the NFL Players Association and the league could have worked in harmony on the bounty issue.

“My biggest regret is that we aren’t all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get them out of the game and to make the game safer," Goodell said. “Clearly the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and players, we all share that responsibility. That’s what I regret, that I wasn’t able to make that point clearly enough with the union and with others. But that’s something we’re going to be incredibly relentless on."

NFC South afternoon update

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
4:27
PM ET
Time for a run through some odds and ends from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

There’s apparent good news on the injury front. Cornerback Dunta Robinson (concussion) said he expects to be ready for the Jan. 13 playoff game. Coach Mike Smith already has said he expects defensive end John Abraham (ankle) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) to be ready for the playoff game. Safety William Moore hasn’t returned to practice after missing the final four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury, but the Falcons seem optimistic Moore will return soon.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Quarterback Cam Newton got banged up in the season finale. But the team said tests revealed no fractures of his ribs or ankles. That means Newton won’t be rehabilitating any serious injuries and should be ready for the start of the offseason program.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma took great exception to a story in which an anonymous player said defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo should be fired. What jumps out at me is that Vilma’s major problem seems to be with the use of an anonymous source. He doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity to dispute what the source said. Also, I don’t know that Vilma should be lecturing anyone about the use of anonymous sources. He seemed to be the benefactor of information from anonymous sources at various times during the bounty scandal.

Gregg Williams, who was at the center of the bounty scandal, reportedly has been fired by the St. Louis Rams even though he already is suspended indefinitely. If St. Louis coach and longtime Williams friend Jeff Fisher is giving up on the defensive coordinator, I think it’s a long shot Williams will ever return to the NFL.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Bucs have signed eight players to futures contracts. Somehow, I don’t think quarterback Adam Weber is the guy coach Greg Schiano was talking about when he said the Bucs could bring in some competition for Josh Freeman.

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