December 18, 2017

Talking to Kids about the Saints Bounty Scandal

New Orleans Saints Training RoomAs a Saints fan I am angry, frustrated, and disappointed about the actions of the team. But as a Mom to a young Saints fan those emotions are only intensified! My son, like many kids in the greater New Orleans area, looks up to the players who wear black and gold. Every Sunday they become part of our lives. Quite frankly, we talk about players like Brees, Vilma, and coach  Sean Payton as if they’re old friends. I have the task of explaining to a child that even Saints make mistakes but there are lessons to be learned and ways to turn this into a teachable moment for the youth of New Orleans. I really hope that the players, coaches, and Saints organization take the time to address the youth fan base and let them know that in no situation should the objective be to injure another player no matter the circumstance.

First, let me start by saying what the Saints did was unequivocally wrong. There is no way to justify intentionally trying to injure another player and that should never be the team’s objective but I also think that the commissioner’s punishment was excessive by taking coach Payton away for the entire season. I could understand suspending him for the first half of the season, which would have impacted the Saint’s chances for a potential playoff run in the highly competitive NFC South but would have allowed them to make a push at the end of the season. All you have to do is look back at the games last season where Sean Payton was not on the sidelines and calling plays from the press box to see that his presence on the sidelines makes a huge difference.

When discussing this scandal with my son, I made sure to address some key points and have an open discussion with him. Here are the topics we discussed:

Winning at all Cost

Having the drive to win is great but if that means sacrificing your values and ethics then it’s not worth it. There is a fine line between hitting hard and hitting with the intent to harm. Because of the nature of the sport there will always be injuries. There is no way to rid the game of injuries unless they transform it to two-hand touch and no fan wants to see that. We cheer and applaud when players make big hits and they do have a place in the sport. Just like an Olympian who takes performance enhancing drugs, there is a line crossed when athletes will do anything to win.

Honesty is the Best Policy

The consensus seems to be that it was the cover-up and not the crime that led to the crushing penalties on the Saints. As a parent, I tell my son that if you tell me now what happened your punishment will be lighter than if I find out later and you didn’t tell me yourself. The commissioner seems to be applying this tactic to the Saints. He asked, they lied, and he found out from somebody else and now the punishment is worse. The lesson here is always tell the truth and tell it the first time!

Don’t Rule with Emotion

Sometimes you have to think with your head and not your heart. The Saints wanted to win for a city that was still recovering, for the fans who had endured so much following Katrina. On the other side of the ball, the commissioner didn’t appreciate being lied to and the arrogance of the Saint’s management staff and he ruled with emotion. We’ll never know if they were warned and still continued the practice of bounties or just paying for performance which although illegal in the NFL, I don’t see paying for performance any different than an incentive bonus to a salesmen or a sticker on a college player’s helmet but that’s another story.

Move On!

What has been done is done and there is no taking it back. What we can do is learn from it, take the punishment and move on. The commissioner didn’t take our team away. We still have the New Orleans Saints. They are our team and we can support them and prove to the NFL that we will come back stronger just as our city has. The Saints are used to being labeled underdogs and seem to revel in their status as underdogs. There is so much talk about what other teams do and which teams do and do not have a bounty system in place. Of course, I think all 32 teams should be investigated for such practices but it doesn’t matter. If there were 32 cars speeding on the Causeway and we were the ones caught, it doesn’t change the fact that what the Saints did was wrong. There is no use wallowing in self-pity or what could have been. The Saints need to focus on two things: 1) Signing a long term deal with Drew Brees because if that doesn’t happen you can ignore what I said about not wallowing in self-pity because then we can wallow away together and 2) the ultimate goal of becoming a champions again is still a possibility and we need to support our team and be the 12th man in the Dome helping them to reach that goal.


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  1. You did a good decision about talking this happening to your kids. This will make them to understand the situation.
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  2. Thank you so very much for your great insight. While we do not live in LA, we live in NY and my 8 year old almost 9 year old loves the Saints. So much so, his goal at 8 is to play for LSU and then his beloved Saints. The more it has been on the news the more concerned I have become and unsure as to how to explain this to him and how he will respond when others say negative things to him regarding football and more so the Saints. I googled the subject this morning and LOVED all of the things you said!

  3. DivinneGrace says:

    Player safety is what matters most because we all know that they are very important in games and as part of the teamwork…
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  4. Girl, I totally agree with EVERYTHING you’ve said. My team isn’t the Saints, it’s the Titans. Which means back in the Super Bowl year, we had the same DC under Fisher. Which means it very well could’ve (and probably was) happening on our team too. I’m just disgusted. Well for your team (because I love me some Sean Payton, seriously.) And for my team because I think we all know it wasn’t JUST the Saints. When my son starts playing football (he’s 3 and has already decided he wants to be a tackle…lol) he’ll know about ALL of what you’ve said. He’s being taught it right now…so by the time he’s 5 and on pee wee’s…he’ll KNOW. It’s so important.
    Thank you for this post!
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    • Hi Amy,
      Thank you so much for your comment! Yes, it is widespread and that is very frustrating! Also, there is such a fine line and now every hit any player makes is going to be scrutinized for intent. My son played football and even at the age of 7 the coach made it very clear that football is a sport of warriors your either hit hard or get run over. I was really glad that they focused on proper technique to avoid injury but it is a rough sport!

  5. I agree on the idea that you should talk to your kids about this matter. Thank you for posting.

  6. I agree, player safety is of the utmost concern. The problem I have with this whole situation is that they have never shown that there was malicious intent to injure another player. The NFL has only said players were monetarily rewarded for making plays, and “pay for play” is against the rules. This whole “Bounty Gate’ reference is media hype.
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  7. AizzaMarie says:

    Hi…This is very interesting…Thank you for your awesome post here…

  8. ShirlleyFai says:

    Hi…I think this is what we really need to talk with the kids of some things about us…Thanks for the idea and reminding us about it…

  9. I really liked this post! I’ll be pinning it on my pinterest account!
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  10. I really found this post interesting! I’ll be pinning this on pinterest!

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