I don't know if that is what it is or not. I've only ever seen it characterized as paying for "big hits", and if a player is knocked out of a game, well, that happens all of the time from perfectly legal hits. But if there is a cheap shot or a late hit the refs can see it and throw a flag. Even if they are coaching chop blocks that can be called in the game. If you break the rules, you get a penalty. But how would the refs recognize the NE cheating in a game? I'm not excusing the Saints, but to me what NE did was on a whole different scale.Paying them to play dirty is out of bounds.
Isn't that exactly what it was?
If not directly. They were incentivized to take cheap shots/late hits and knock players out of the game.
Of course, other teams are coached to chop block and cut out linemen at the knees, so perhaps it's a very thin distinction.
I don't know if I would call it a whole different scale. I would say different playing fields. The cheating by NE will effect the outcome of a game based on they may know when the other team lines up in a certain formation, they know what's going to happen. It gives them an unfair advantage I know, but it doesn't physically hurt the other players.
Major has a good point. Right now the NFL is dealing with some pretty big issues with the toll that playing in the NFL does to your body. In my mind, people have signed up for this and they should understand what they're getting into. But, if they don't come down hard on what the Saints were doing, they might look "soft" on the issue and to some, it might look like they condone the violent behavior of people like James Harrison.
What the Saints did does not actually give them an unfair advantage on the field like what NE did, but it endangers the lively hood of the other players on the field. The refs can throw a flag on a cheap shot that knocked out a QB but the QB is still knocked out.