The New Orleans Saints will not be happy campers whenever the National Football League concludes its on-going investigation into the team’s alleged bounty system.

According to this week’s edition of the USA Today Sports Weekly an article entitled “NFL Set to Lower Boom on Saints” the article emphasizes that Commissioner Roger Goodell will mete out what is expected to be harsh punishment for their bounty system that represents perhaps the most blatant violation of football ethics under his watch.

The NFL has said that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran an improper pay-for performance pool, which offered bonuses for big plays as well as big hits that forced opposing players from games or left them needing help to leave the field.

However, Saints quarterback Drew Brees claims he has never participated in and never was aware of a “real” bounty program, and there would be no place for players being provided incentives to intentionally injure one another in any sport.

In a letter posted on his foundation’s website last weekend, the Saints’ star quarterback says fans should reserve judgment until more is known about the league’s bounty probe.

“I did not participate in any bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence,” Brees told the Associated Press. “I have spent the last several years as an Executive Committee Member of the NFLPA making health and safety a priority and I am proud of the advancements we’ve made and will continue to make.

“We are all working diligently to find the truth in this matter and if the facts prove there was improper behavior, we will hold ourselves accountable. Until that time, we will stand together and remain united as an organization,” Brees concluded.

The record-setting quarterback has been noticeably silent on the bounty issue. However, Williams, now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, has admitted to his role in the program and apologized.

Almost a week after the NFL pointed to them for failing to stop a bounty program involving some two dozen Saints players, head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that “happened under our watch.”

Former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner was injured in a 2010 playoff game against the Saints. “These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game,” Payton and Loomis added. “Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.”

It was former defensive coordinator Williams who boldly declared during the Saints’ march to a Super Bowl crown during the 2009 season that his players would deliver “remember me” shots to opposing quarterbacks as a statement of their intimidation.

According to findings of an NFL investigation released recently—one that implicated Williams, general manager Mickey Loomis and 22 to 27 Saints defensive players from 2009 to 2011—the tough talk was a reflection of a larger scheme.

It even came with a price list:

Knock out an opposing player–$1,500

Deliver the blow that results in an opponent getting carted off the field–$1,000,

Strike such a debilitating blow during the do-or-die playoffs—Double or triple payments.

According to USA Today Sports Weekly, it is in Goodell’s hands to make a statement that will likely exceed the enormous penalties levied against the New England Patriots for their “Spygate” infractions during the 2007 season.

Coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were docked $250.000 and a first-round draft pick for videotaping the signals of New York Jets defensive coaches.

According to a person familiar with Goodell’s thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly while the case was on-going, the commissioner views the Saints’ case as a critical opportunity to underscore the league’s burgeoning emphasis on safety and need to change a culture that sometimes promotes injuries, another sign a significant penalty could be coming.

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the situation, reported last week that the suspensions could be a half season or longer in some cases.

During his six-year reign Goodell has typically moved swiftly in determining discipline. He is expected to rule before NFL owners convene for meetings March 25 in Palm Beach, Fla.

As outlined in the league’s announcement last week, the discipline could include fines, suspensions and lost draft picks.

The NFL said its findings were supported by 18,000 documents, mostly in the form of e-mails that included details about payments.

Williams, who left the Saints in January to reunite with coach Jeff Fisher as defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, is the most obvious target for strict discipline.

Since last week charges have surfaced that link Williams to similar pay-for-performance plans during previous stops with the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.

And according to an article written by Paul Jackiewicz of– “it is clear that Gregg Williams’ bounty program traces back to his days with the Washington Redskins and now it looks like it might be the cause of Peyton Manning’s neck injury that almost knocked him out of football for good.”

In the article former Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy indicated that he believed Manning’s neck injury originated from a hit he suffered against the Redskins back in 2006.

In that game Manning was brutally hit by former Redskins’ Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter. During the game Dungy was outraged by the hit and wanted a flag, but didn’t get one at the time.

“That’s the year we started cutting back on Manning’s throws in practice,” Dungy recalls. “I’m not putting two plus two together. I just figured he’s getting older and he needs some time off, he’s made enough throws. But now, as I look back on it, there’s no doubt in my mind that this was the start of his neck problems.”

KWICKIES…It’s a shame Tiger Woods has more money than he’ll ever need because when he withdrew from the WGC Tour Cadillac Championship Sunday after 13 holes, he was just one-over par for the day and six under for the tournament. If he could have limped through those final five holes in even par, he would have finished with a 280 score which paid a cool $92,000. Even if he went one more over par, 281 paid $85,000 and 282 paid $76,000. Tiger’s sore Achilles tendon must have really bothered him to give up that kind of money. Wonder what his status will be for next month’s Masters???

NFL free agency began yesterday (Tues.) at 3 p.m. and if the Houston Texans were unsuccessful at re-signing outside linebacker Mario Williams, they will probably lose him to the highest bidder (which probably won’t be Houston). Williams and backup cornerback Jason Allen became unrestricted free agents if either was unable to come to terms on a new contract with the Texans. Even though he missed 13 games last season (including both in the playoffs) Williams could become the highest paid defensive player in NFL history this week.

The Lamar Cardinals are only one of three teams representing the Lone Star State in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Cards face Vermont Wednesday in the Midwest Region, No. 3 Baylor will face No. 14 South Dakota State Thursday in the South Region while the No. 11 Texas Longhorns meet No. 6 Cincinnati Friday in the East Region. There are no teams from Louisiana in the NCAA Tourney. UT-Arlington is the only Texas school in the NIT while LSU represents the Pelican State. TCU is in the College Basketball Invitational while McNeese State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Rice were invited to the tourney.

Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams has thrown his hat into the ring for teams that would like Peyton Manning as their quarterback. Adams said he will do “whatever is necessary” to persuade the four-time NFL MVP to come to Tennessee, even offering up a job in the Titans’ front office when his playing days are over.

The Houston Texans’ punter Brett Hartmann received a four-game suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The NFL credited Hartmann the Baltimore playoff game as the first game of his suspension, so he’ll miss the first three games of the 2012 season. Hartmann is eligible to participate in all off-season and preseason practices and games.

JUST BETWEEN US…Everything fell into place for the Lamar Cardinals men’s basketball team to have a chance to play for the Southland Conference championship, thanks to my alma mater McNeese State choking down the stretch. Lamar whipped the Cowboys twice within a week to win the SLC and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This Korner is not too happy that Lamar was seeded lower than 64, but they play the Vermont Catamounts (any kind of a wild cat) at 5:40 p.m. today (Wed.), who finished second in the America East Conference but won the tournament for an automatic bid. Both teams sport identical 22-11 records with Lamar favored by three points according to Las Vegas . The game will be televised on truTV (Time Warner Channel 49). The lucky winner of this game will get to play North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, on Friday.