The Saints' penalty needs to exceed New England's

The Saints' penalty needs to exceed New England's
March 2, 2012, 11:42 pm
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The sideline videotaping the Patriots were apprehended for in 2007 was stupid and deceitful and arrogant.

The pay-for-prey operation the Saints were found guilty of Friday is stupid and deceitful and arrogant and dangerous.

The Patriots betrayed the integrity of the game. The Saints betrayed the sanctity of the NFL's brotherhood.

I don't feel like debating which deed was "worse." But I do believe the Saints deserve harsher punishment than New England received.

The reason? The whole dog-and-pony show the league went through at the owner's meetings in March of 2008 in the wake of Spygate has been treated by the Saints like a farce.

The Patriots peed on a memo from the league? The Saints peed on a code of moral conduct the league hatched after Spygate.

You remember that at those meetings, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft both stood up in front of the league's 31 teams and asked forgiveness.

That act was applauded because, by then, the Patriots had been hammered and re-hammered for in the court of public opinion and been fined significantly.

"I'm happy they did it," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said at the time. "I don't know they had to do it. But it was good to hear from them. We're all trying to move on from this thing. What was said will stay in the room, but it was good."

"From a working stiff's point of view, (Robert Kraft) certainly doesn't need to apologize for anything. The New England Patriots have been a bellweather for this league as long as the Kraft family has owned them. As far as being good citizens of the NFL, they're at the top.''

Also during those meetings which were long on efforts to ensure integrity all 32 owners agreed to a policy proposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell entitled "Integrity of the Game and Fair Competition."

The policy requires all club owners, executives and head coaches to certify annually that they have complied with league rules and policies and have reported any violations they know.

That was in early April 2008. Meanwhile, you have a defensive coordinator running a hit operation on NFL employees months later.

Again, both infractions are beyond stupid. But when it comes to meting out penalties, the fact that the entire league was on notice and had agreed in writing to be good citizens while this was going on should be a greater affront to the NFL Commissioner's office and the 31 other teams than a lackey with a videocam.