- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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There wasn't too much Twitter reaction from the New Orleans Saints on Monday after the NFL handed down its Deflategate punishments to the New England Patriots. But former defensive players Scott Shanle and Will Smith voiced their opinion that the punishments were a "slap" on the wrist compared to the harsher punishments handed down during New Orleans' bounty scandal:
Important takeaway is NFL will slap your hand if you alter competitive balance of a pro 🏈 game just don't have a performance based pool 😲
— Scott Shanle (@scottshanle) May 12, 2015
I agree!!! https://t.co/T8dvijGJ4K
— Will Smith (@iWillSmith) May 12, 2015
Saints fans have been even more vocal on Twitter comparing the two "gates" -- most of them also complaining the Patriots got off light, while a few expressed happiness that they didn't get off lighter.
My take is similar to when the Bountygate comparisons sprung up during NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice investigation: The Saints' punishments in Bountygate were way too severe.
The NFL rushed to judgment by condemning the Saints with unprecedented penalties before the case was fully investigated. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue got it right when he overturned all player suspensions on appeal, finding there was no evidence of any actual misconduct on the field of play -- only for improper "talk" off the field.
But the reason the Saints' punishments were so unreasonable was because their infractions were related to player safety, which was arguably the biggest threat to the NFL's well-being at that time, when the concussion lawsuits were starting to gain steam.
So Saints fans -- and the Saints themselves -- will just continue to frustrate themselves all over again if they hope or expect the NFL's punishments to follow suit in unrelated cases.
Former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita had a good perspective on it the other day when he responded to a fan suggesting that Patriots coach Bill Belichick should be punished like Saints coach Sean Payton was since Goodell made it clear that ignorance is not a defense for a head coach.
— Scott Fujita (@sfujita55) May 10, 2015
Here's how some other NFL players around the league reacted to the Patriots' punishments.