If you want to use the punishment handed down from the NFL against the Saints as an opportunity to make a troll faces and cruelly heap derision on Who Dat Nation, by all means. I’m indulging quite a bit myself. I greatly anticipate Sean Payton being forced to spend a year wandering the Earth in an effort to come to grips with his disgrace. Make no mistake, however, that this entire ruling is completely f*cked and indefensible. The NFL in official language is doing its best to play the part of the aggrieved, with Goodell saying the worst part of the Saints behavior is that they had the nerve to lie to the league. Which is stupid, because every or damn near every team has lied to the NFL about not having bounties. The league just didn’t bother to follow up with the others.

As has been the theme ever since the league could no longer ignore or escape the danger it faces over concussions and their long-term consequences on players, the NFL aims to make the game safer, or at least outwardly appear to do so, because it wishes to avoid a litany of lawsuits from former players. The bounty scandal plays right into that. Bounty systems have long existed as a little-recognized but very real part of the game. The NFL knew this, but now the league sees an opportunity to cast blame on the players and coaches themselves for persisting injury issues. You can imagine how the reasoning goes: “How can the NFL’s efforts to make the game safe be effective if the players are just intent on dispensing kill shots for profit.”

Some intrepid Rog bootlickers are going so far as to hail Goodell for the Saints decision. Why? It’s an extreme CYA move by a heavy-handed commissioner more concerned with the league’s liability than anything else. Still, people like CBS Sports columnist Mike Freeman see great vision and wisdom in the act of punishing one team for the crimes of many. Just read this sh*tpile.

As a result of Goodell’s actions — the right actions — this type of extremeness will die a glorious death, at least for the near future.

Ooh, the near future! That’ll show ‘em. That’s Ginger Hammer justice: stopping a horrendous practice for the short term, until the heat blows off and teams just start doing it again. Or at least long enough that the media has made sure to let everyone know that we care.

Fans don’t care if Payton berates reporters with loads of foul language or bans them from covering practice (which is against NFL rules) or has Vicodin issues or is sued by the former head of security. They don’t care if Payton was a bully. He won. He brought them a Super Bowl. That’s all that matters to fans.

WAAAAAHHHHHH HE SAID BAD WORDS TO REPORTERS! You can mention the Vicodin stuff, and it’s bad, but the league clearly didn’t care enough when it surfaced to take any action. But they’re content to trot it out now as a pattern of untoward behavior on Payton’s part. Is Payton an arrogant asswipe who doesn’t want to answer your questions? Probably, but then so are the vast majority of NFL head coaches. If this was such an issue, why didn’t you write about it before you had the chance to throw dirt on his grave?

The problem is, all along, in a somewhat isolated media market, Payton was becoming out of control. I knew Payton when he worked in New York. He was a nerd. The power in New Orleans changed him into something different, and that difference, in my opinion, is what allowed the culture of Bountygate to grow.

Let this be a lesson: with unchecked power and the isolated fiefdom of a team frequently covered by the national media, a lowly nerdlinger can become a malevolent tyrant of a head coach.

No wonder Goodell feels like he can do anything with enablers like this.