The Saints won a Super Bowl in 2009 while defensive players were being motivated by monetary incentives to injure the opposition. We don’t know the severity of the punishment yet, but we know that their championship already has a developing black and blue wound.

The NFL announced the nature of the Saints’ illegal conduct earlier this afternoon, and shortly after that announcement team owner Tom Benson issued a statement.

“I have been made aware of the NFL’s findings relative to the “Bounty Rule” and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans.”

Simple and meaningless front office speak.

The Saints will be punished heavily, and likely through the loss of a draft pick. Their first-round pick is already gone to the Patriots through their trade during last year’s draft to land Mark Ingram. Now the second-round pick could be gone too, meaning a team that’s set to possibly lose key parts in free agency (Marques Colston, Carl Nicks) won’t get a chance to replace them until the third round.

This is a league that’s handed a money machine to every owner through its lucrative TV contracts, so no matter how massive it seems, a fine wouldn’t hurt much. But losing a draft pick is a whole different kind of pain.

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