The NFL officially slapped down final sanctions on the New Orleans Saints Monday including a year long suspension for Head Coach Sean Payton. So what does WSU have to do with the New Orleans Saints pay-for-pain bounty system that has resulted in the biggest scandal of professional football in the 21st century?
Quite a lot, actually.
Let me explain. Remember back to November when freshman Connor Halliday came in — and against all odds — threw for 494 yards and four touchdowns to beat Arizona State 37-27 in the snow and kept our bowl game hopes alive.
It was a great day.
For once people weren’t using Paul Wulff's name as a derogatory synonym for the F-bomb (although that lasted about as long as the flavor in a piece of Dubble-Bubble).
The cherry on top of that unforgettable win was that during the game WSU honored one of its most inspirational and admirable alumni — Steve Gleason, who has been diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and is courageously living out the last days of his life raising awareness for ALS.
Gleason, a sophomore linebacker on WSU’s 1997 Rose Bowl team, went undrafted out of college until he earned a spot on the Saints roster, which he kept from 2000-07 by being a special teams specialist.
His most famous play was blocking a punt versus the Falcons on Monday Night Football in 2006. It was the Saints first game at the Superdome since New Orleans had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
I remember watching that game.
The stadium went an almost Birth-of-Beast-Mode level of ballistic. Combine the story of New Orleans and Katrina with the story of Gleason and you’ve got the fixings for one heck of a documentary.
This is exactly what filmmaker Sean Pamphilon was thinking.
So he and Gleason decided to get together to chronicle the Cougar alumni’s incredible story.
Gleason’s blocked-punt and bravery in the face of adversity has made him loved as a Saint as much as he’s loved as a Coug, which is why he was allowed in the Saints locker room before their divisional playoff game versus the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Well, he and his documentary filmmaker (Pamphilon), who happened to have his audio-recorder on right as former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams offered cash rewards for anyone who successfully took out Michael Crabtree’s tender ACL, Vernon Davis’ ankles, or Frank Gore and Alex Smith’s heads.
This is the very audio clip that busted the whole scandal open.
The same clip NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell heard and then promptly told Payton he could take a vacation till the 2013 season. He also slapped General Manager Mickey Loomis with an eight-game suspension, Assistant Coach Joe Vitt for six and Williams himself has been suspended indefinitely.
So the question becomes how ethical Pamphilon’s actions were.
Gleason himself has said he didn’t think Pamphilon had a right release the recordings. Pamphilon has said his conscious wouldn’t let him do anything else.
It’s a dilemma my brothers and I like to classify as a “tweener.” However, at the end of the day, Pamphilon did the right thing.
I hope he and Gleason will clear the air and finish the documentary because I think it will be an amazing story and will do a lot to raise awareness for ALS.
I understand Gleason’s loyalty to the Saints, but if the Saints are pointing the finger at Gleason and his pesky filmmaker/spy, then they (and we) have missed the point.
This is not about who blew the whistle. It’s about playing the game of football the right way. Coaches should absolutely tell their players to intimidate their opponent.
However, they should tell them to do so by tackling with good form and playing the game the right way.
There’s almost nothing I love more in spots than a big, fat, clean football hit. But there’s almost no highlight I hate watching more than the one of Tom Brady tearing his ACL in week one of the 2008 season.
Had William’s bounty system claimed part of the career of my beloved Aaron Rodgers career, I’d be hunting a head of my own: one with a Saints visor and salt-n-pepper hair.