All he had to do was ask, just inquire and maybe he wouldn’t be in this mess. Sean Payton is a good friend of Bill Belichick. In the 2010 preseason, they had their teams practice for a week together and share a lot of coaching notes.
What didn’t get shared were Belichick's “Goodell notes,” and that was a big mistake.
In 2007, Bill Belichick was caught on what is now known as “Spygate,” where the Patriots were caught videotaping team's defensive signals. The outrage was swift, and before you could say Pat Patriot, Roger Goodell came down swooping off his newly settled perch.
If you need a little refresher, here you go:
The New England Patriots were penalized by the NFL for videotaping New York Jets defensive coaches' signals during a September 9, 2007 game from an unapproved sideline location. A deed deemed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be in violation of league rules.
After an investigation, the NFL fined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 (the maximum allowed by the league and the biggest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's 87-year history) for his participation in the incident, fined the Patriots $250,000, and docked the team their original first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Ouch.
The aftermath was just as bad, five years later Bill Belichick and the Patriots, despite having turned the roster over, still combat the “Cheater” allegations. The debate rages on whether it was such a serious offense.
We’ve seen all extremes from “everybody does it in some way,” to “Belichick must burn.” The world was spinning and the Patriots, once “America’s team,” became “America’s armpit” to many. Until now...
Enter Gregg "The Bounty Hunter" Williams, the guy we in New England thank for taking the load off our backs. Now, it seems silly; videotaping comes in a far second to what went on in New Orleans. Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t know what hit him after Goodell's punishment, but he knew his defensive coordinator was doing dirty things and did nothing about it.
Fact are facts, and Goodell turned down the appeals of Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton because there's no room for purposely injuring players. To get you caught up:
The NFL started investigating the Saints in 2010, due to allegations of deliberate attempts to injure players during the 2009–10 playoffs, but the investigation was prolonged until late in the 2011 season. On March 2, 2012, the NFL announced that it had found evidence that "between 22 and 27 Saints players, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams set bounties with their own money to pay out bonuses for injuring opposing players.
It also acknowledged that head coach Sean Payton attempted to cover up the bounty system, and that he and general manager Mickey Loomis failed to shut it down when ordered to do so by team owner Tom Benson.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded with the most severe sanctions in the league's 92-year history, and among the most historic punishments for on-field infractions in professional sports history.
Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season and Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season. Their appeals were heard and denied quicker than a light switch. Payton is the first head coach in modern NFL history to be suspended for an entire season . The Saints organization was fined $500,000, and forced to forfeit their second-round draft selections in 2012 and 2013.
All of that could have been avoided only if Payton had asked Bill, “Think I should clean this up?” The arrogance of Payton now rips his legacy, which in New Orleans, was growing to iconic stature. After hurricane Katrina, Payton became the head coach in 2006 and led a moribund franchise into prominence. In the meanwhile, he became a fixture in the rebuilding of New Orleans. His popularity became evident when announced he was buying a home in Texas, and the fans of New Orleans nearly nosedived in a premature coma.
All he had to was ask, that’s all. Payton is now viewed as an evil man who allowed his assistants the keys to injure and maim. He’ll always be remembered as the guy who allowed it to happen, Joe Paterno style.
Again, all he had to do was ask Bill, and he would have told him… Roger Goodell is no joke.
After spygate and losing the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls, it's nice coming in second on this dubious one.