When the now infamous "Bountygate" first surfaced last Friday, the only evidence the league had collected in their report involved the Saints in the three years from 2009 to 2011. In the days since that time, the dots have been connected which suggest the primary culprit is defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams.
Reports of more bounty incidents are now coming out of Washington, where Williams had been the defensive coordinator from 04-07 prior to joining the Saints, and Buffalo where he was the head coach from 01-03. In fact, it seems bounty programs have followed him throughout his NFL coaching career.
Williams, now the defensive coordinator for the St Louis Rams, has been summoned to the league offices in New York. He could be facing the brunt of the punishment for the scandal due to the evidence against him. However, despite him taking most of the blame, the league will undoubtedly be handing down several other penalties as well.
The nearest such scandal to this was the Patriots' "Spygate" incident. In that case, the team had their first round draft choice stripped from them and the team and head coach, Bill Belichick, received fines. The punishment for this scandal will go much farther than that.
Roger Goodell has made it his number one priority to clean up the game both on and off the field. On the field a heavy emphasis has been placed on player safety and this scandal flies in the face of that. There will be a broad sword swung across the Saints, Williams, Sean Payton, and anyone else involved the likes of which we have not seen under Goodell.
Having their first round draft pick taken away will be the just the tip of the iceberg for the Saints. And despite the fact that Williams is falling on the sword, there will still be plenty of blame to go around for others who either participated in the bounty program or were aware of it and did nothing to stop it. This is where Dennis Allen comes in.
Depending on the evidence the leagues uncovers, Allen could be fined for at very least not putting a stop to the program when he had the chance. Every coach and player who stepped in that locker room knew this was happening. And while the players may not feel like they should be the one to "rat out" their teammates, the coaches are held to a higher standard in that regard.
Sure, there have been some who say this is a league wide thing and everyone does it. But that makes no difference to Goodell. In fact, it may have him coming down even harder to ensure it stops. Keep in mind, you and I may have our opinions about this and we can make all the excuses we want, but we are not the ones making the decision here.
Players on the team who are found to have sought to injure an opposing player as a result of a bounty, will very likely receive fines and suspensions. This is where the Raiders come in.
This will not only affect the Saints, but any other team looking to sign a player from that team as a free agent. For instance, say the Raiders look to sign a guy like Tracy Porter and he is found guilty of taking part in the bounty program. He will be suspended and therefore the Raiders would take that risk in signing him knowing he could be suspended.
Thus far the only specific player name that has come out is Jonathan Vilma, who has been identified as having put $10 thousand cash down to take out Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship game. The NFL will come down hard on him and Roger Goodell will make an example out of him.
But though Vilma is the only name mentioned thus far, the report has between 22 and 27 Saints defenders listed has having taken part in the program. That is basically the entire defense.
Allen has already reached out to former coaches he served with to join the team and the thinking is that he would be looking to add some familiar faces among the players he coached as well. And being that Allen coached with the Saints for five seasons, that seems like one of the more likely trees from which he would pick.
With the evidence piling up and the NFL's file on "Bountygate" being a reported 18,000 pages long, the punishment for this will go deep and wide. And while, the news that the program has followed Gregg Williams is good for Dennis Allen and other former Saints coaches, there will be very few if any who come out of this unscathed.
The good news for the Raiders is any punishment for Allen would be more akin to a small fine and is unlikely to include any kind of suspension.