The Saints will already be without Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma for all or parts of the 2012 season for their supposed role in an alleged bounty program, pending appeal. Today it was revealed that linebacker Ramon Humber is the 3rd current Saints defensive player to get suspended (Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita also received suspensions though they are no longer on the team). Humber’s suspension will be 3 games to start the season, though he was not a given to make the 53 man roster. There’s been no word yet on if his suspension is related to “bounty gate” or some other cause, like a positive drug test.
Humber isn’t the only one that’s gotten in trouble, though…
as Roman Harper and Jo-Lonn Dunbar have both had evidence released against them for participation in a pay for performance program. While the article does say both players are unlikely to suffer suspensions from this information, citing league sources, the NFL has also made it clear throughout the process that should new evidence surface they would absolutely consider more punishments. Dunbar is a member of the St. Louis Rams now, but Harper is still a starter in the Saints’ secondary. I’ve always said from the very beginning that I was shocked Harper escaped any kind of suspension in this process. He’s been by far the most penalized player on the roster for late hits, and he came off as Gregg Williams’ disciple as he always seem to buy into that style of coaching more than most players on the team. Now that he’s got hard evidence implicating him, we’ll see if that changes.
I want to be clear I’m not saying that these players getting $200 cash handouts for “whacks” represents in my opinion evidence of a bounty program. Thankfully, no offensive Lions players left that game with an injury, so the cash pay out for a “whack” in that game can have a non-bounty interpretation. But a pay for performance program, rewarding players for big hits, is still illegal. Based on that, at the very least it’s a salary cap violation. At most, it’s an anti sportsmanlike act that damages the integrity of the game. Either way, such a penalty is punishable by suspension for sure. We’ll see if Harper becomes the 4th defensive player to miss time.
This just never seems to want to end.