On Friday one of the biggest stories of the sports year came to light as the NFL revealed the New Orleans Saints improper “pay for performance” program that included “bounty” payments to players for inflicting injuries on opposing players over the past three seasons.
ESPN continues to offer comprehensive coverage of the story, including a special one-hour NFL Live Roundtable this afternoon at 4 p.m. with host Trey Wingo and multiple analysts.
“This is one of those very unique stories that resonates beyond just football and the sports world,” said Seth Markman, who oversees ESPN’s NFL studio shows. “Over the weekend we started talking about all the different angles, and we knew we had a number of different people who wanted to offer their opinions, so we decided to devote an entire show to it.
“We’ve seen there is an unbelievable appetite for these kinds of big stories,” Markman said. “To give us the proper time and the amount of voices you want to hear from on a topic like this, having a dedicated show is a good model for us. We’re still going to cover the news of the day but the format will really allow us to dig into this.”
Some of ESPN’s planned coverage of the Saints bounty program story today:
Outside the Lines (3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
An examination of the pervasiveness and ethics of “pay for performance” incentives in the NFL. Host Bob Ley with guests Adam Schefter, Herm Edwards, Mike Golic, NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt, and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Coy Wire.
NFL Live Roundtable Special: Bounties in the NFL (4 p.m., ESPN)
Trey Wingo hosts with analysts Tedy Bruschi, Darren Woodson, Golic and Marcellus Wiley in studio. Analysts Steve Young and Edwards will also appear live via satellite. The entire hour will be devoted to this issue.
Markman added: “Marcellus Wiley is well connected to today’s current player because he played so recently. Today, I think he’s going to detail some of the teams he played on and some of the ‘bounty systems,’ if you will, that were not coach-driven but player-driven. He can be very candid, and I think it will be eye-opening what he has to say.”
• NFL national columnist Ashley Fox writes why Saints owner Tom Benson should consider firing head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis.
• NFL contributor Ross Tucker offers his opinion on why money for injuring a player is inexcusable and reprehensible, but how he disagrees with the notion that it is “cheating” simply because it’s not allowed. Where’s the competitive edge gained?
• ESPN.com senior writer Jeff MacGregor provides a commentary on the Saints: how the beloved NFL feel-good team of the last decade is now under fire. He asks how long the bounty program has gone on and under what circumstance did it begin? And, how pervasive is this across the league?
• The SportsNation poll page asks fans for their opinions on multiple questions related to the bounty topic.