Saints pay for not learning from Patriots

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Saints pay for not learning from Patriots

PALM BEACH -- It's deja vu in Palm Beach,

In the Spring of 2008, the NFL's annual league meetings were here and a large portion of that event was a bloodletting by the Patriots.

Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft stood before a room of their peers and apologized for videotaping opponents' defensive signals from the sidelines during games.

Accentuating the cleansing, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell advanced a fair playsportsmanshipethics platform. Henceforth, coaches, GMs and owners were to police themselves and sign off that they were clean and pure as the driven snow.

And within a year, the New Orleans Saints were running a program in which players were rewarded for injuring opponents.

This week, Saints coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis are expected to do some penance in front of their peers and the assembled owners.

There's been a lot of discussion about the Draconian punishment handed down by Goodell in this so-called Bountygate mess.

But to me, the reason the commissioner was so penal has its roots in the 2008 meetings. The Saints directly defied investigators, yes, but they also put pen to paper and signed off on their program being ethically clean.

Doing that while maintaining a bounty program was -- along with everything else -- a raised middle finger in the face of Goodell.

In handing down his punishment, Goodell specifically cited the amendment enacted in 2008.

"A 2007 amendment to the NFL Constitution and By-Laws obligated coaches and supervisory employees 'to communicate openly and candidly with the principal owner andor his designated representative; to ensure that club ownership is informed on a complete and timely basis of all matters affecting the clubs operations; and to avoid actions that undermine or damage the clubs reputation or operating success.' The obligation to supervise the coaching staff and players is also expressly set forth in the employment agreement signed by Coach Payton."

In addition to being on a different planet entirely from what the Patriots were cuffed around for in 2008, the Saints are also paying the price for ignoring the law-and-order, fair play standards handed down here at The Breakers four years ago.

And now they are where the Patriots were. In more ways than one.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.