Unless you were living in a cave today you perhaps missed maybe the biggest coaching story to come along since Spygate. Dan already touched upon it earlier today in mentioning that the New Orleans Saints were busted for placing a bounty to intentionally hurt offensive players from the 2009 through the 2011 season. (Please work with me while I vent my personal feelings on this. As bloggers were not supposed to say “I think” or let our personal preferences be known. How we feel as sports “fans” doesn’t matter one bit in the final outcome of a football game. It’s more a matter of being objective, staying rational and keeping a broad knowledge base within the sport. At any rate…)
Listen, I get it… football is a violent game. I can totally understand that defensive players have side bets on laying a tough hit on star and it’s maybe a little bit in the grey area while doing so. From someone who’s played organized football in the past and has somewhat of an understanding on Xs and Os while working together as a team towards what it takes to win a football game, we all bend the rules to win. Every team has side bets and we’re fine admitting that it’s the worst kept secret in the game. We’re red-blooded males. Well, most of us. But when it gets to the point that before the 2009 NFC Championship Game versus the Minnesota Vikings that Jonathan Vilma placed $10,000 on a table to say, “This money is for anyone who knocks out (then Vikings quarterback) Brett Favre,” that’s where we have to draw the line in the sand. Especially throwing in the fact that an assistant coach was involved in that very process of throwing money on the table… yes, I’m looking at you Gregg Williams. Commissioner Roger Goodell even said today that, “It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated.” It’s great to say that it won’t be tolerated, but ‘will not be tolerated’ is present and future tense. Do we expect that game to be reversed? Absolutely not! But does this news ease the pain of such a torturing loss. Not for one minute!
Moving forward however if there’s any bit of positive takeaway from this is that general manager Rick Spielman can do the Vikings a favor by cutting defensive tackle Remi Ayodele. Anyone who has the smallest amount of memory recalls how Ayodele laid a high-low hit with defensive end Bobby McCray on quarterback Brett Favre which official Mike Pereira (who at the time was the NFL’s vice president of officiating) admitted that referee Pete Morelli’s staff should have called a 15-yard penalty on the Saints giving the Vikings a first down. Not to mention it hurt Favre’s ankle and he wasn’t as mobile for the remainder of the game. Would have Favre been able to run for a first down instead of throwing a bad pass to then Viking receiver Sidney Rice only to have been picked off by Tracy Porter, well we don’t know. You can’t go back in time in life. Moving forward the best the Vikings can do is cut Ayodele to find a replacement nose tackle in the draft or in free agency. It probably will not go over well amongst fellow Viking leaders in Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams (all of whom played in the 2009 NFC Championship Game and are without Super Bowl rings) that Ayodele was part of such antics and would not be welcome in the Vikings locker room moving forward. Beyond that Ayodele underperformed last season (15 tackles and 1.5 sacks… stumbling upon numbers), was benched in a game last season to give Christian Ballard a start and wouldn’t cost the Vikings much to cut bait allowing him to look for another team or find a different form of employment.
Then again, what do we know? Maybe Ayodele just bought into what the Saints were doing however right or wrong. Forget that…
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig