I didn't want to write anything about the BountyGate coverage knowing I could never give an unbiased, fair assessment of the scandal as a lifelong Saints fan. I've always been curious what it'd be like to have my team at the center of a scandal big enough it got its own "Gate" attached to it... now I know, it sucks. This is worse than going through the years of Billy Joe Hobert AND Billy Joe Tolliver. The actions of Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, the players, and everyone else in BountyGate have taken a team whose story was admired and embraced by a nation - from the depths of Hurricane Katrina all the way to a Super Bowl triumph - and blotted it with an ugly scandal. They've hurt their organization, their league, and their fans in a drastic way.
Make no mistake, the Saints organization and those involved should pay for what transpired, if for nothing else than their sheer arrogance and stupidity in lying to the league and thinking they would never get found out. With Roger Goodell's emphasis on player safety (more on that in a bit), they had to know the risk of getting caught giving out bounties to knock players out of games would far outweight the petty cash and/or symbolic reward. They had to know the hammer would come down hard when that day of reckoning would come, especially after attempting to cover up their activities. The parties involved deserve every bit of likely punishment that's coming (fines, suspensions, draft picks) because of that reality.
Are bounties wrong? Of course. Unethical? Absolutely. But as you've heard this week, bounties and pay for performance schemes aren't exclusive to New Orleans. Of course, that in no way excuses the elaborate and cringe-inducing scheme run by Gregg Williams though.
But it's also true that in any "Gate" level scandal or controversy, the media by nature is bound to circle like hungry sharks smelling blood in the water. When this type of story erupts, levelheadedness too often gets thrown out the window. Rushes to judgment are made. Sweeping comparisons are a dime a dozen.
The competition of "Who Can Be The Most Appalled And Horrified This Could Happen" among sportswriters over BountyGate has been a story worth watching in its own right. But in the end, the hyperbole therein hides the true scandal of BountyGate. Just take a look at these examples...