Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Orleans Saints: Bounty Scandal (2012)

New Orleans Saints football logo

The New Orleans Saints is a professional football team that is from New Orleans, Louisiana. For many years, the New Orleans Saints have been a model franchise for the National Football League (NFL) for their conduct on and off the field. In the past couple of years, the NFL have been paying close attention to the safety of the players while on the field, especially with concussions. The NFL has become more strict and created new rules and fines to protect the players from concussions and injuries. This bounty scandal came out at the worst possible time for not only the Saints but also for the NFL, during a time when the intention was to crack down on players' hits.
For many years, dating back to 2009, the New Orleans Saints were found using a bounty system that was targeted against opposing players. Players were given bonuses for hard hits and intentionally injuring targeted opposing players. Between 22 and 27 Saints players participated in this program which lasted from 2009 to 2012, which in 2011 the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. For this bounty scandal, Head Coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, GM Mickey Loomis, and Saints assistant Joe Vitt were all suspended by the league for this incident. On May 2nd, four players were suspended, which were Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita. 
The league suspended Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012 season, Anthony Hargrove was suspended eight games, and both Will Smith and Scott Fujita were suspended three games. Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions for Vilma and and Smith and reduced the suspensions for Fujita and Hargrove to one game.  Head Coach Sean Payton was also suspended for one year without pay, GM Mickey Loomis was suspended without pay for the first eight regular season games of the 2012 season, while Saints assistant Joe Vitt was suspended for the first six games. Since the NFL started the investigation, it was unveiled that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been accused of running similar bounty programs while he was with the Titans, Redskins, and Bills. Williams was suspended indefinitely and Goodell would reevaluate his case after the 2012 season. Some of the targeted quarterbacks during this program consisted of Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Kurt Warner, and Aaron Rodgers. 
The New Orleans Saints as an organization were also fined $500,000 and had to forfeit their second-round and third-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. A nickname for this bounty program was referred to as "bountygate". Since, Gregg Williams was not with the St. Louis Rams and not with the New Orleans Saints, the St. Louis Rams had to deal with some punishments from the investigation. The NFL also suspended other players that were involved in this program but were not big named players like the four players that were suspended publicly. Sean Payton was suspended because he was aware of  this program but did nothing to shut it down while Mickey Loomis was ordered by team owner Tom Benson to shut down the program, but did not.

In the four major ethical theories, Individualism (Friedman's Economic Theory), Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory, the New Orleans Saints were unethical because of this bounty program and did not complete their duty to their fans and fellow players.

Sean Payton; head coach of the New Orleans Saints
The Individualism (Friedman's Economic Theory) states that "The only goal of business is profit, so that the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stakeholders." The New Orleans Saints violated this theory when they went through with the bounty program. The people that were involved were unethical because they did not accomplish their only goal, which was to maximize profit. They did not maximize profit when they were suspended without pay and when the organization in general was fined $500,000. The company should not have went through with this bounty program and should have put a stop to it immediately.

Utilitarianism & Individualism
According to Utilitarianism, the policy is to "maximize the overall good", and obviously with this bounty on players, the New Orleans Saints failed this theory. The New Orleans Saints did the exact opposite of trying to maximize the overall with this bounty of trying to intentionally injure players. Head Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis could have and should have shut this down when they became aware of this. They would have been ethical according to utilitarianism because they were trying to maximize the good by trying to shut this bounty down. If Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis they would have also maximized their profit, which has to do with individualism.

Joe Vitt, assistant coach to the New Orleans Saints
Kantianism, is to act rationally and to not act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from rules. The New Orleans Saints did not act rationally and considered themselves exempt from rules because of this bounty program. The New Orleans Saints as a whole did not act rationally throughout the years that this bounty program was established and did not take into consideration the punishments of their actions. Many people within the organization knew what was going on but did not act to end this program down. The organization also considered themselves exempt from the rules because nobody did anything about this program and if people were concerned, someone would have done something to shut it down, but nobody did.

Virtue Theory
The Virtue Theory, deals with people and companies making good decisions that helps everybody. The four characteristics of virtue theory are courage, honesty, self-control, and fairness. The bounty program consisted of none of these characteristics, which means the organization was unethical. The New Orleans Saints had none of these characteristics and were going against the virtue theory. The people involved did not show courage by trying to intentionally injure players, were not honest because they did not tell anybody what was going on, had no self-control because the goal was to injure players and make big plays through big hits, and were not fair to the opposing players who were unaware of the bounty. 

The New Orleans Saints and the bounty program showed their lack of care for their fans, teammates, and opposing players/teams while going through with this incident. There was nothing ethical about this program and none of these theories would comply with the bounties set on each player.


"Saints Bounty Scandal." ESPN NFL. ESPN, 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

Services, News. "NFL Hammers Saints For bounties." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

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