The Saints had little chance to win their appeal on Thursday but a new audio featuring Gregg Williams dooms it entirely. The Saints appeal is dead on arrival. It's done.
The audio, obtained by Yahoo!, has Williams making a hand gesture indicating Saints players would be paid if they injured players on the team the Saints were facing. It was last year's playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's more on the specifics of that story here.
The important thing to know is this. The NFL, prior to last year's playoffs and that game, warned the Saints to knock off bounties. Just days before Williams' speech. Just. Days.
And the Saints ignored those warnings. This from the NFL's March 21 press release:
“Saints owner Tom Benson notified Mr. Loomis in January 2012 prior to the team's participation in the playoffs that the league's investigation had been reopened. Mr. Benson reiterated his position that a bounty program was unacceptable and instructed Mr. Loomis to ensure that if a bounty program existed at the Saints it would stop immediately. By his own admission, Mr. Loomis responded to this direction by making only cursory inquiries of Coaches Payton and Williams. He never issued instructions to end the bounty program to either the coaching staff or the players.
“In January 2012, prior to the Saints' first playoff game of the 2011 season, Coach Payton was advised by Mr. Loomis that the league office had reopened the investigation. Coach Payton made a cursory inquiry but took no action to ensure that any bounty program was discontinued.”
So the NFL warns the Saints. The Saints don't take the warnings seriously and then a short time later Williams issues a bounty declaration.
This is why the appeal of the Saints is doomed. It's done. Toast. The league issued multiple warnings including in early 2010 during the team's Super Bowl run. Then the team misled the NFL numerous times. Then just days after a warning, Williams went all bounty again.
Now the only question is would Roger Goodell consider lengthening Payton's suspension which is not out of the realm of possibility.