Study Shows Saints Among NFL's Most Violent

Study Shows Saints Among NFL's Most Violent

In a 2011 season in which the New Orleans Saints rewarded players for injuring opponents in a "pay-for-pain" bounty scheme, the team was among the most violent in the National Football League, a Reuters analysis shows.

The Saints were second in the NFL with 17 regular-season defensive flags for violating rules intended to protect players from being hurt, just behind the Oakland Raiders' 18. The league averaged nine per team.

The Raiders have a long, proud tradition of aggressive rule-breaking. "The Oakland Raiders have always been a very physical team," said Jim Tunney, a 31-year veteran NFL referee.

"I think it has a lot to do with team discipline and the way the coach wants to approach the game," he said.

Unlike the Raiders, though, the Saints did not otherwise commit a large number of penalties. As a result, violent penalties accounted for a league-high 37 percent of all the Saints' defensive penalties. The Raiders, with the top number of 88 penalties overall, had a violent-penalty rate of only 20 percent. The league averaged 21 percent.

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