Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal visited Kingsport over the weekend and talked some sports as well as politics. Here’s the Hank Hayes report:
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called for across-the-board fairness amid discipline imposed on the New Orleans Saints professional football team by the National Football League for violations of the league’s “Bounty” rule.
“We found out about it in the news just like everybody else,” Jindal said of the NFL’s ruling on the Saints before speaking at the Sullivan County GOP Reagan Day Dinner Thursday night.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faulted team management for payments made to players over a three-year period for “knock-outs” and “cart-offs” during plays where an opposing player was forced to leave a game.
Players, not the club, primarily funded the bounty program, according to the NFL.
But the team was fined $500,000, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year without pay, and former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, who had been hired by the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely.
Goodell said he will address potential player sanctions separately. He also instructed all clubs to certify that no such bounty program exists at any NFL team.
Jindal, who said he was “saddened” by the discipline doled out on the Saints, indicated the NFL should be even-handed with other potential violators.
“As a father of three young children and an avid sports fan, the allegations (against the Saints) were very serious,” Jindal said. “There needs to be serious consequences. I do hope the NFL, and this is not an excuse … this was serious misconduct and there needs to be serious consequences … but I do hope the NFL will treat the allegations about similar types of situations with other teams. I hope they will look into those allegations and hope it’s not happening anywhere else in the NFL. I hope they investigate that and are just as fair in those other places.”
Jindal indicated the NFL’s decision doesn’t minimize the Saints’ 2009 season success and victory in the 2010 Super Bowl.
“You look at what the Saints meant to the state of Louisiana, especially after (Hurricane) Katrina (in 2005),” Jindal pointed out. “They were a source of not only unity and resilience but it was a great example for the people. They will get past this. I’m still a Saints fan. Drew Brees is a great quarterback. The Benson family (the club’s owners) has been very generous to our community.
“I think Drew Brees said it best. This doesn’t represent their values and who they are. They have to put this behind them and make sure it doesn’t happen again and get back on the field and start winning some games.”
Jindal flew to Northeast Tennessee to speak to Sullivan County Republicans while Louisiana lawmakers were considering his education reform package.
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he asked Jindal on the plane if he had the votes to pass the reform measures.
“He said ‘Would I be on this plane if I didn’t?’ ” Ramsey said of Jindal’s response.
Jindal indicated the reforms are aimed at expanding charter schools and linking teacher evaluations to student achievement.
“We need to make sure there’s a great teacher in every classroom,” Jindal said at the GOP event held at the MeadowView Marriott. “… In my state we lose 50 percent of our teachers five years after they graduate (from college) … education has to be about student achievement if it’s about anything.”
But Jindal’s main recurring message was about the Republican presidential nominee defeating Democrat incumbent President Barack Obama in the November general election.
“I don’t think we can afford four more years of President Obama,” Jindal insisted. “He’s run up $15 trillion in debt and proposing more taxes and more spending. Any one of our nominees is committed to repealing Obamacare (also known as federal health care reform), producing more energy at home and reforming these entitlement programs so we don’t keep borrowing money from China.”