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The Saints Did In Fact Strategize to Injure Favre (I told you so)

On January 29th, 2010, I wrote:

I do not appreciate the fact that the New Orleans Saints defense, when playing the superior Minnesota Vikings, clearly designed, practiced, and successfully implemented a strategy that if adopted by other teams and not stopped by new rules, will change the way the sport is played forever. During the playoff game with the Vikings, the Saints’ defense got through the Vikings’ defensive line and knocked down the quarterback something like 19 times. Not sacked. They knocked him down after he had thrown or passed off the ball. One time there was a penalty, and the commentators covering the game claimed that penalty was not appropriate.

In other words, the Saints figured out a way of physically hitting the QB after he let go of the ball without it being a penalty. They did it enough times to injure and disorient Brett Favre. In my view, two or three of the plays late in the game would likely not have gone the way they went had Favre not been injured in this way. The Saints probably won the game by using this new technique.

Ethan Siegel disagreed. He said:

The Colts have a much better O-line than the Vikes. You might not like your QB getting hit after the ball is thrown, but it’s your linemen’s jobs to protect him, not the officials’.

José said:

It’s not some new strategy developed by the Saints. It’s the strategy that’s used by every single team in every single game. The Vikings were trying to do the exact same thing to Drew Brees. They just weren’t as successful. There’s even a stat called “knockdowns” which records legal hits on a quarterback made after he’s released the ball.

No one is saying the strategy doesn’t exist. We’re saying that it is the strategy that is always used. It’s just a normal part of a brutal sport. Try and find an article that suggests that the Saints tactics could change the way the game will be played.

Jared said:

How closely, exactly, did you watch the game?
Favre got rid of the ball early many times because he was about to be tackled. The Saints didn’t get sacks because he’s a good quarterback and was throwing the ball before someone got to him (often away). It’s not a “new strategy.”

Brian said:

Greg, apparently in your rush to expose the “virtually unprecedented” strategy of the Saints by linking to a news story wherein they promise to give Peyton some “remember-me” shots, you failed to read just one paragraph further.
[i]”We hear it all the time,” left guard Ryan Lilja said Friday. “The teams in our division go out and draft guys for that reason. You hear rumors about bounties and that kind of stuff, so it’s nothing new.”[/i]
Whether wrong or right, it’s not something unprecedented.
And knockdowns are an unofficial stat, but they are considered by many when ranking defensive players (considered with sacks, hurries, etc.).

And there were other naysayers. Some commented here.

And they were all wrong. And I was all right.

From The Washington Post:

The NFL suspended New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams Wednesday for their roles in a bounty system that provided the team’s players payments for hits that injured opponents.

Williams was suspended indefinitely. Payton was suspended for one year, and Loomis was suspended for eight games…

The Saints were fined $500,000 and lose two second-round draft choices, one in this year’s draft and one in 2013…

Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt also was suspended for six games. …

The penalties are among the harshest in the sport’s history. …

“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” Goodell added. “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.”

According to the NFL’s investigation, the fund reached as much as $50,000 or more and players were paid $1,500 for a hit that knocked an opponent from a game and $1,000 for a hit that led to an opposing player being helped off the field. Those amounts doubled or tripled for playoff games, according to the league’s investigation.

From MPR:

We knew it!

In the franchise-changing NFL National Conference championship game in 2010, many thought the New Orleans Saints were playing dirty and out to injure people, particularly then-Vikings-QB Brett Favre. Now we know the truth. They were.

Today, the National Football League revealed results of an investigation into a “bounty program” the Saints had that paid players for injuring the competition.

It said between 22 and 27 defensive players and at least one assistant coach were involved and that the payouts to players reached a high of $50,000 during the playoffs that year.

What needs to happen now is obvious, isn’t it? The Saints need to give up their Superbowl win. They cheated. They need to turn in their rings, and they need to be removed from play for a couple of years. Let the franchise die on the vine if that’s how it happens to turn out.

As I once said:

I did not appreciate the sentiment that the New York Yankees had to win the World Series because Osama Bin Laden blew up the World Trade Center. I do not appreciate the sentiment that the New Orleans Saints have to win the Super Bowl because George Bush let poor New Orleans residents die in the Super Dome. …

I do not appreciate the idea that gay-dating ads will be banned from the Super Bowl but anti-abortion ads, I hear, will be shown.

Maybe we should just skip football entirely this year. Forever even.