Welcome to what was supposed to be the week of Peyton but has now become the week of Bountygate, with a side serving of Peyton Manning and eleventh-hour franchise tags as an appetizer.
The NFL’s offseason is always entertainment furnished with drama, but this year’s circus might be unprecedented.
In three days, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history will likely by released by the only team he’s ever played for, making Manning an unrestricted free agent with a one-week headstart on the rest of the market. That was supposed to be the only relevant subject matter in the football world this week, but everything changed in the dying hours of last week, when the league announced that it had damning evidence proving the New Orleans Saints were bounty hunters.
Since then, we’ve learned that the ringleaders of the Bayou bounty operation — or at least those most culpable — will probably face “unprecedented” suspensions. Expect Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis to pay dearly, while former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — who is now with the Rams and is reportedly meeting with the league today in New York — is expected to be “punished severely.”
And now we’re all awaiting a verdict from the commissioner. When the sentences are handed out, we’ll then wonder if Williams will be fired by the Rams before ever coaching a game in St. Louis. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports that Payton and Loomis won’t lose their jobs in New Orleans.
Naturally, we’re also learning that similar games were played in past Williams stops. Turns out the Redskins and Bills also had variations of the bounty system, while the Titans would only confirm payments for big plays and the Jaguars took the complete denial route.
Details of Williams bounty operations and similar operations in different cities will undoubtedly come to the surface in the coming weeks, and the polarizing and dramatic nature of this story will allow it to keep breathing for months to come.
At least now, you have an alternative to Manning Mania.