Tidbits #8 – Pray for Pain: The New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal

The Saints football team is certainly paying a hefty price… A full season without its head coach; the GM suspended for 8 games; linebackers coach out for 6; 2 future 2nd round picks stripped; a half mil in organizational fine; and other individual players suspensions / fines not yet levied… Not to mention, a permanent damage to its reputation as a squeaky clean franchise – it certainly was a feel-good story with a reclaimed quarterback, Hurricane Katrina, etc… until now.

The unprecedented severity of the punishment, while not a “death penalty” as seen in the past in the college ranks, could set the organization back a few years. While I do not condone intentional malice to end someone’s career on the field (had my shares of broken bones and concussions during the playing days), am I the only one seeing a bit of hypocrisy in the commissioner’s actions? Don’t we all have bad intentions when strapping on the shoulder pads and donning the helmet? Isn’t Ndamukong Suh’s sole mission in life to knock the bazezzas out of the quarterback, running back or whoever has the ball once it’s snapped? The irony here – it was the Roger Goodell back in ’05 (when he was the COO of NFL) who convinced the Saints owner not to abandon the city after Katrina

I fully get the fact that NFL is a money printing machine by all standards and needs to manage its risks (e.g., looming player injury lawsuits) but the last time I checked, football is still a contact sport and only refs hold the flags on the playing field. You could also argue that the bounty system worked and the players acted as they are incented. After all, the Saints did win the big trophy during the ’09 / 2010 season…

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (www.SMBmatters.com); following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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