Mar 27, 2012; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton leaves the NFL owners meeting at The Breakers Palm Beach luxury resort hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday. Payton is facing a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
#2. Sins of the Past
The NFL is no stranger to scandal. The Patriots are currently living through “deflate-gate”, but before deflate-gate was the most infamous scandal in recent memory: “Bounty Gate”.
There’s not much to rehash here, almost every NFL fans know about Bounty Gate, and the purpose of this article isn’t to debate whether or not the punishments doled out by the NFL were too severe.
But there’s no question Bounty Gate tainted the reputation of the Saints, and to some degree the reputation of Drew Brees.
Dec 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps it’s not fair to say Bounty Gate hurt Drew Brees’ legacy, after all, he’s had major endorsement deals and by and large is considered a good guy by the NFL community.
However, there’s no denying the punishment of taking away first-round draft picks for the Saints, combined with the suspension of Sean Payton hurt the Saints deeply. Gregg Williams left as defensive coordinator, which ushered in replacements Steve Spagnuolo and Rob Ryan, both of whose defenses have set records for how bad they were.
The last time the Saints were considered a real Super Bowl threat was in 2011, BEFORE Bounty Gate, when they suffered a heart-wrenching defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs.
Since then, the Saints have sputtered along, attempting to recapture that magic, and the fear of Drew Brees and the Saints explosive offense has diminished.
However, aside from Bounty Gate, there have been plenty of issues on the field that contributed to his fall…
Next: Bruised and Battered