As we discussed on Friday, the Bears may have been a target in the Saints' bounty fund scandal. Earl Bennett, the Bears' slot receiver who earned a reputation of making every catch, was knocked out of the game against New Orleans. Jay Cutler was kicked in the throat near the end of the third quarter and couldn't communicate effectively in the loud environment of the Superdome. Frank Omiyale got in a fight because he felt the Saints were playing dirty. It was an ugly game for the Bears that killed the momentum from Chicago's season-opening win over Atlanta.
Much discussion of the scandal revolves around what punishment will hit the Saints. Fines, stripping of draft picks and even bans of coaches have been discussed. But what about compensating the teams on the receiving end of their bounties?
Bennett, who missed five games after taking a hit from Roman Harper, wants to settle it on the field.
"All I have to say is I hope we play them again," Bennett said. "The game of football is a contact sport, so if they're gunning for me, I'm going to be gunning for them."
But while football is a game, it is also a business. Money is used to settle most business disputes and should be used here. When Bennett was injured, he was still on his rookie contract. His base salary was $34,687.50 a game. He missed five games, which comes out to $173,437.50 of salary the Bears paid out to a player who couldn't play. Saints, please write a check for that amount.
Bennett, too, deserves compensation for the pain, suffering and rehab he went through to get back on the field. When he returned, he was fined $15,000 for unapproved orange shoes. The Saints should pick up the tab for that, too.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will dole out punishment to New Orleans in coming weeks. When he does, he should remember the teams who were hurt by the Saints' actions.