"We don't keep in daily contact with all of our players during the offseason. It's their time to get away," said a source on the Saints coaching staff. "Many of them probably still have no idea that the bounty program is at an end. They don't know that they no longer need to be trying to hurt people. I just hope they hear soon before something happens."
There is precedent for the situation in which the Saints find themselves. A Japanese soldier on a small island in the Philippines continued fighting World War II until 1974, not knowing the war had ended. Similarly, months after Buddy Ryan was let go as Philadelphia Eagles head coach in 1990, an Eagles linebacker blindsided Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman at a Dallas supermarket.
NFL Security has warned players throughout the league that several Saints players could still be on the loose and in bounty mode, ready to strike them at any moment.
"It's definitely worrisome," said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. "I thought I heard something downstairs last night when I was getting ready for bed. It turns out it was just my cat knocking a book off my coffee table, but for a few minutes I was terrified that it was Jonathan Vilma coming to get me."
Even if all of the Saints defensive players hear about the end of the bounty program, there is concern that not all of them will instantly give up their mission.
"We could have a Rambo situation on our hands," said commissioner Roger Goodell. "The thought of Roman Harper going rogue is really troubling. That's why I have instructed NFL Security to shoot on sight any Saints players that get within a mile radius of NFL headquarters. It's the only way to protect the public."