Now that the NFL has levied its punishment on the New Orleans Saints, we know it definitely will affect the team's 2012 season. But what kind of lasting impact will this have on the national perception of the Saints' magical Super Bowl run in 2009-10? In your mind, will the XLIV victory now carry an asterisk?
This won't have the lasting effect Spygate has had on New EnglandI don't think it will, certainly not to the degree that Spygate still gets talked about with the Patriots.
The Saints did not rack up a preposterous number of personal fouls, there was no untoward behavior in the Super Bowl and many of the hits people object to in previous playoff games weren't flagged. Even some of the principles involved -- like Brett Favre and Kurt Warner -- didn't really object to it.
I'm not sure how widespread this sort of thing is, but plenty of people, players and coaches alike, current and former, have said it goes on in one form or another in most locker rooms.
The brilliance of Drew Brees, the guts of Sean Payton to call that onside kick and Tracy Porter's memorable interception had nothing to do with this regrettable behavior.
Punishment paints black eye over franchise, but Saints' Super Bowl run remains magicalThe bounty punishment for the New Orleans Saints paints a black eye over the franchise, but it doesn't take away from the accomplishment of winning Super Bowl XLIV. The team won the title on the field by soundly defeating its opponents. Nothing can diminish the Saints' title run, not even this bounty saga.
While the scandal is certainly embarrassing for all involved, it is still hard for me to point to a pay-for-performance program as the driving force behind their success. Drew Brees and his offensive 'mates were not tied to the program and we witnessed the fireworks produced by that unit. Brees and Co. steamrolled foes with little resistance.
Although the defensive performance in that 2009-10 run will now be viewed with a raised eyebrow, it's hard to find a trail of flags and injuries resulting directly from any bounty system. Without visual proof to point out illegal or dirty acts, I simply chalk up their aggressive play to hard-nosed, blue-collar football.
Bounties had nothing to do with Super Bowl winNo way is there an asterisk attached to the Saints' Super Bowl win over the Colts. There was nothing in that game that was affected by bounties.
As for the discipline, it's obvious Roger Goodell is sending a message. There is no wiggle room for Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and Gregg Williams in this decision. This will impact the Saints and Rams in drastic ways moving forward.
No precedent to base this on; stunning action by GoodellThe difficult thing is there is no precedent for this. This was stunning action by Commissioner Roger Goodell and shows he is very serious about his zero tolerance policy.
It also shows that if there is something you want to get rid of in the league, you can do it -- whether it's gambling, substance abuse, illegal hits or bounties.
Taint on Saints will fade with timeAs bad as it seems now, I don't think this will affect their legacy in years to come. In my opinion, Spygate has not affected the Patriots legacy as much as some people seem to think.
Image of Saints forever altered, but still no asteriskThe image of this team is forever altered. No longer are they the new America's Team, the one we fell in love with after they rallied around each other and the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now they're the new 1970s Oakland Raiders: lawless, as they thumb their nose at the NFL.
But does their Super Bowl win carry an asterisk? No way. They were the best team. They didn't have video tape of their opponents -- they were a squad that got carried away with violent play. It doesn't diminish what they accomplished.
Saints won't be able to avoid the perceptionEvery time the postseason starts, we are constantly reminded the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since Spygate. That's something I'm sure the Patriots fans are sick of hearing.
There is no way the Saints can avoid similar scrutiny for this. Honestly, you can't watch highlights from the Saints' playoff run without thinking about how much money players were getting for every hit and play that they made.
Turnovers, not big hits, won Saints a Super BowlTough to call so early in the game, but I think we can leave asterisks at the door. While there has been a lot of focus on the blows delivered to Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in the NFC playoff games that year, that doesn't mean the ensuing wins came courtesy of those hits. Warner has said the shot that knocked him out in the divisional playoff was clean. Secondly, Adrian Peterson's fumbles had as much to do with the Vikings losing in the NFC championship as anything else. The Saints defense in 2009 was known for creating turnovers -- in fact, they were second in the NFL with 39. Darren Sharper picked off nine passes, and returned three for touchdowns. Combine that with a great offense, and it's easy to see why they won the Super Bowl.
Does the news of the infractions and punishment tarnish their legacy, specifically Sean Payton and Gregg Williams? Sure. But to asterisk the Saints' championship run would be a misstep.