Column: It wasn't me
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 23:04
Just in case anyone was wondering, let me put any speculation to rest. No, I am not the New Orleans Saints’ “BountyGate” whistleblower.
But what if I was? What would you all think of me?
Would I be a hero? Someone who exposed something terrible and helped bring justice to the people who thought they were untouchable?
Or would I be a snitch, a pariah, someone with an axe to grind?
Since reports came out yesterday that Mike Cerullo, a program aide in the UConn football program who was formerly a quality control coach for the New Orleans Saints, was the whistleblower to the NFL about the Saints’ bounty program, the reaction has trended in both directions.
The initial report on CBSSports.com said that filmmaker and author Alan Donnes pointed the finger at Cerullo during an appearance on America’s Radio News Network on Tuesday. The report went on to say, “Donnes described Cerullo as a disgruntled former employee who couldn’t find work after being let go after the 2009 season… Donnes said Cerullo believed Sean Payton and Gregg Williams blocked Cerullo from getting a job in the NFL.”
I had the opportunity to meet coach Cerullo for a column I wrote last semester, and while I wasn’t able to get ahold of him by print time for this column, one thing we discussed then seemed ironically relevant today. Since we have the same name, we joked that it was a shame nobody sent me any juicy emails intended for him by mistake. “Too bad I wasn’t involved in any scandal,” he said.
Whether its fair or not, he’s involved in one now. But if it’s true, and Cerullo was a whistleblower that brought the Saints bounty program to light, then what should we make of it? Is he a hero or a snitch?
Personally, I think he should be applauded.
There’s a reason that Roger Goodell cracked down on the Saints as hard as he did. Even beyond just the obvious public relations implications of the situation, what the Saints were doing was horrible. People who play in the NFL have real lives, and the scars they suffer during their playing days don’t just go away once they retire.
People who sustain concussions as players often battle depression and memory loss after retirement, and stories of players who struggle to walk because of chronic back or knee problems are not uncommon. The retired players have been fighting for better medical benefits for years.
The bounty program could have ruined players’ lives. Gregg Williams, the former Saints defensive coordinator who ran the program, talked about targeting Michael Crabtree’s ACL and Frank Gore’s head before the Saints’ NFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. Do you honestly believe that Frank Gore’s livelihood is worth the $1,500 the Saints’ player would have received for taking him out?
Football may be a violent sport, and injuries do happen, but there is no need to put a price on people’s health and well-being. As far as the notion of betraying his co-workers, I believe that hiding the truth only serves to empower those who are abusing their power. If what the Saints were doing was acceptable, there would have been no need to hide it in the first place.
I do hope that this situation doesn’t end up hurting Cerullo in the long run; he has a new family and two daughters to care for. Luckily, he is currently in the final stages of becoming the new Director of Football Operations at Princeton University, according to the Hartford Courant’s Desmond Conner.
Good for him. It would be a real shame if he and his family had to suffer for what he’s done.
Follow Mac Cerullo on Twitter at @MacCerullo.