Now that the suspensions have been doled out and the obligatory appeals have been filed, it's time to take a look at exactly what happened in New Orleans.
The most damning testimony comes from the declaration signed by one of those suspended, former Saint and current Packer Anthony Hargrove. Hargrove's declaration states that former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams and current Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt encouraged Hargrove to lie to NFL investigators repeatedly about the team's illegal bounty "hits for bucks" program. The declaration also states that Hargrove was told that he would be all but guarenteed the starting left defensive end position, something Hargrove later determined to be linked to his misleading of investigators. He was also told to remember who brought him into the league and to the Saints. It was Vitt.
If this declaration is accurate, and we have no reason to believe Hargrove had reason to lie, it goes beyond the pale. It should guarentee that Williams should never see another NFL sideline again, and it throws into question whether Vitt should join Williams in being indefinitely suspended.
These are serious charges! You have NFL coaches that were intentionally defying the league, encouraging perjury and threatening players if they didn't go along with their scheme.
A purge needs to take place in the Saints front office and on the coaching staff. The problem is systemic and will not be solved by suspending Head Coach Sean Payton for a year or General Manager Nickeye Loomis for half of a season. Winning the Super Bowl is this franchise's shining moment. Bounty-Gate is the franchise's darkest hour, and until Tom Benson breaks out the Lysol and cleans up this mess. This franchise will live under this shroud.