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The Aftermath of Bountygate: Whistleblowing in the NFL

Well Sports fans here we go:

METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton expressed his astonishment on Twitter after Fox Sports reported Sunday that former Saints whistleblower Mike Cerullo now works for the NFL office.

I have nothing in particular against the New Orleans Saints. As a New England Patriots Fan, well, we have our own investigation issues to live down.

However, this is no joking matter.  Sean Payton lost his job for a year, but the Saints as an organization admitted these allegations.  The league investigated with a former commissioner conducting the investigation:

According to the league, Payton ignored instructions from the NFL and Saints ownership to make sure bounties weren’t being paid. The league also chastised him for choosing to “falsely deny that the program existed,” and for trying to “encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to ‘make sure our ducks are in a row.’ “

The bounties involved were designed to hurt other players. Say what you want, other infractions reported against other teams may have alleged a team getting an edge against another team, but this involved paying money to hurt people. The NFL reported the bounty pool run by then Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams reached as high as $50,000.

The NFL said the scheme involved 22 to 27 defensive players, targeting opponents including quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.

Of course, we now know the league is having serious problems with the affects of knockouts.  In addition, to bounty idea just being wrong, the NFL had to consider how inuring other teams’ stars deliberately would damage the game as a whole.  It is bad enough that Aaron Rogers got hurt this year as part of a normal game.

After all this Payton is astonished that the guy who blew the whistle is employable?  Payton got his job back.

I know this is only sports, and certainly the NFL has done more than a few things wrong, but protecting players from a team paying to hurt other players does not seem wrong to me.

Employing the guy who blew the whistle is in fact the right thing to do.

Frankly I wish that other major organizations realized that being a whistleblower does not make someone a bad employee. Quite to the contrary, here, the whistleblower may have saved a lot of careers of players who otherwise would have gotten injured.

Payton may be a brilliant coach. That does not make him right about who should still have a job and whose rights should be protected.