There is no question that the Saints had a bounty system in place.
The question begs though was it just performance based on had intent to injure? If it had intent to injure they were terrible at it according to these findings by the Big Lead.
Economists Kevin Hassett and Stan Veuger compiled injury data from the 2009 to 2011 NFL seasons and found that the New Orleans Saints, despite having a bounty system in place, injured fewer players per gamethan the NFL average. They suggest this indicates Saints players “admirably ignored” their coaches’ instructions.
The data-driven answer is a resounding “no.” The Saints appear to have injured far fewer players over the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. The numbers are striking. From 2009 to 2011, the Saints injured, on average, 3.2 opposing players each game. The rest of the teams in the league caused, on average, 3.8 injuries per game. This difference is highly statistically significant, or in other words, it would hold up in a court of law or a fancy academic journal. In each year of the bounty program, the Saints injured fewer players than the average for the league. In 2009, the Saints injured 2.8 players a game, and other teams injured on average 3.8. In 2010, it was 3.5 and 3.6, and in 2011 it was 3.3 and 3.8.
Even during their run to the Super Bowl the Saints didn’t have the best defense, they were opportunistic and caused many turnovers, but they weren’t putting any fear of God into any teams.
Even last year they allowed Alex Smith of all people to make not one, but two fourth quarter comebacks against them. If anything this should be a lesson to all teams, just because you put money on the table if you don’t have the players it isn’t going to matter.
Must suck for the Saints to be punished and not even execute the bounties. It is like getting arrested for robbery and you didn’t even leave the bank with any money.