One of the most bizarre and potentially historical days in National Football League history is coming to a close and what we now know for certain is that Sean Payton will not be coaching the New Orleans Saints next season and that Tim Tebow will be on the New York Jets roster. Around noon EST today the NFL broke two incredibly noteworthy stories, first with the first announcement of punishments in “BountyGate” and then minutes later the report that the New York Jets had acquired Tebow for a fourth round pick.
To begin with the biggest and saddest news of the day Commissioner Roger Goodell has brandished his hammer and punished the New Orleans Saints severely for the bounty system that their defense employed. This bounty system financially encouraged Saints players to injure star players on opponent’s teams, including quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. Saints players were rewarded with around $1,500 for “knockouts” and an additional $1,000 any time they forced a player to be carted off the field, with the incentives doubling or tripling during playoff games. The NFL believes that around 22 to 27 defensive players were involved in this bounty system, and in their crackdown on illegal hits (especially against defenseless players) the league took a major stand against the Saints. The defensive coordinator responsible for this system, Gregg Williams, has been suspended by the NFL indefinitely and Roger Goodell will look at the facts in this case again at the end of the 2012 season, but if I had to guess Williams will never receive another paycheck from the league. Also, in an unprecedented move, Goodell decided to suspend Saints Head Coach Sean Payton without pay for the entire 2012 season. Payton becomes the first coach to be suspended in the league for any reason and stands to lose about $7,000,000 with this suspension. In addition, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for the first 8 games of the regular season, and assistant coach Joe Vitt for the 4 six games. The Saints organization was also fined $500,000 and second round drafts picks were forfeited for this year and next year’s draft. It is unknown if or when players involved with also be suspended, but I would expect more news to drop on that front as the league’s investigation continues and more is known about who specifically was involved. I expect harsh punishments for the players as well.
And now to Tebow. Less than two minutes after news broke this afternoon of the Saints punishments, the news of Messiah to the Jets became the ESPN headlines and news that shocked the football world. Of course it wasn’t that simple, as anything involving #15 has to be a drama filled process, and hours later it was reported that the Broncos and Jets had hit a snag in their negotiations, with the main reason being the contract of the now former Broncos quarterback. In Tebow’s contract there is a $6.2 million dollar salary advance, of which 1.2 has already been paid by the Broncos, and the future $5,000,000 will now need to be picked up by the Jets. Apparently the Jets front office was not aware of this earlier in the day and negotiations took longer than expected to be finalized. These few hours of negotiations allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars (who I feel should have been the most involved team in this whole situation) to speak with Denver and raise the price for Tebow. Minutes ago, this trade finally became official and the New York Jets have agreed to send a fourth and six round pick to the Broncos for Mr. Tebow and a seventh round pick. At the end of the day Tebow is now a Jet and will probably be introduced at a press conference tomorrow afternoon.
This week has been one of the most bizarre and most interesting weeks that I can remember in the National Football League, outside of Super Bowl weeks which are at a whole ‘nother level. The impact of Peyton to Denver, Timmy to New York, and the Saints to the doghouse will be felt throughout the entire 2012 NFL Season and beyond and I for one am excited to see how it all plays out. Football is becoming America’s sport in part because of the drama involved in the game and weeks like this one definitely help that movement. Nobody knows what is going to happen next and I guess that is half the fun, but man it is exhausting!