State lawmaker: NFL is punishing Louisiana taxpayers for Saints’ bounty program

Taylor Bigler Entertainment Editor
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A Louisiana lawmaker says the National Football League is punishing the state’s taxpayers with its severe sanctions against the New Orleans Saints.

Last month, the NFL imposed crippling sanctions against the “Who Dat Nation” for instituting a “bounty” program in which where defensive players received money from a slush fund to injure members of opposing teams and force them to leave games.

The penalties included a $500,000 fine,  the suspension of head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season — a penalty that he is currently appealing — and the loss of second-round draft picks for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

General Manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for eight games, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has been suspended for six. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely.

But Republican state Rep. Cameron Henry says the punishments will negatively impact the state — and inadvertently punish Louisiana taxpayers.

“The state has invested thousands of dollars in the Saints, and they are actually penalizing every taxpayer in Louisiana [with the sanctions],” Henry said in a phone interview with The Daily Caller.

Henry filed a House resolution in his state’s legislature, asking the NFL to reconsider the punishments for the Saints, because they are “too harsh.”

The resolution flew through the state House and a Senate committees, and will be voted on by the entire Senate next week. A similar effort in the state Senate is being spearheaded by Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat.

“I haven’t heard one dissenting word about it. … This is across all party lines,” Henry said.

The bipartisan effort exemplifies how passionately the state feels about the Saints. Many credit the Saints’ Super Bowl victory in 2010 with uniting New Orleans spiritually and economically after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005.

Henry said he does not condonethe bounty program, but suggested that the entire team — and the entire state of Louisiana — shouldn’t be punished for the wrongdoings of a few players.

“As an example, if you have four kids in your house and one does something wrong you penalize one of them, not all of them,” he said.

In this case, the ramifications wrought by a few of the players have angered vigilant fans, who Henry credits with boosting the state’s economy through ticket sales and the rebuilding of the Superdome.

Henry sent a copy of the resolution to the NFL, but he has yet to hear back. He hopes that once it passes through the full Senate next week, the NFL will reply.

Henry said: “My hope is that [the NFL] will rethink how the penalties they have imposed on the individuals effect the entire team, the state, and the taxpayers.”

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