When the notion that the New Orleans Saints had a "Bounty Fund" out, it shook the football world and teams that played them wondered if their players were on their hit list.
Today in New York City, Commissioner Roger Goodell made an announcement that literally shook the football world as we know it.
According to a release from the league office and the Associated Press, the punshiment came down and came down hard.
The league announced that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year, the team will lose its second round pick in 2012 and '13 and pay $500,000 as a result of the NFL's bounty investigation, the league announced Wednesday.
Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who orchestrated the program, has
been suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis
faces an eight-game suspension. Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt is also
suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2012 season.
"We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the
integrity of the game," Goodell said Wednesday. "We will not tolerate conduct or
a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the
rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it
will not be compromised."
The league found that the cash pool reached $50,000 or more during the 2009
playoffs, and players were paid $1,500 for a "knockout" and $1,000 for a "cart-off" with payouts doubling or tripling during the playoffs. Money was provided primarily by players.
All such payments violate league rules for non-contract bonuses. Williams administered the program and the NFL says Payton was not a direct participant, yet was aware of the allegations and "failed to stop the bounty program."
"A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,"
Goodell continued. "When there is targeting of players for injury and cash
rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and
three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting
message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place
in the game."
"The game doesn't need to be played this way," Goodell said on NFL Network. "We think that while it is a strong message, its an important one to send -- that we need to protect our players."
The Saints issued a statement Wednesday taking "full responsibility" for the
infractions. "It has always been the goal of the New Orleans Saints to create a model
franchise and to impact our league in a positive manner," the statement read.
"There is no place for bounties in our league and we reiterate our pledge that
this will never happen again."
Saints QB Drew Brees said Wednesday he was "speechless" upon learning the extent
of the punishment, calling Payton a "great man, coach and mentor." Payton and
Loomis took "full responsibility" for the violations in a joint statement issued
days after the findings, and later met with Goodell in New York to discuss the
The pair apologized for the "unique hardship" on team owner Tom Benson,
recognized the severity of the violations, and promised that they "will never
Williams, who left the Saints this offseason to become defensive coordinator for
the St. Louis Rams, apologized for his program, which he reportedly also
implemented in several other NFL cities. Commissioner Goodell will review
Williams' status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to
"I'd like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, (Rams) Coach (Jeff)
Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions,"
Williams said Wednesday. "I will do everything possible to re-earn the respect
of my colleagues, the NFL and its players in hopes of returning to coaching in
Once a coach in Jacksonville, Houston/Tennessee, Buffalo and Washington,
Williams was reported to have instituted similar programs in other cities,
though the NFL did not find enough evidence to punish those teams Wednesday.
There are some Saints fans that think that the commish is picking on them. Fine. I don't see it that way as an Atlanta Falcons fan that has to deal with them twice a year. I don't have a problem with them playing any team hard and putting forth effort. It's when you go outside of the established rules that becomes a problem. You crossed the line, fellas. You thought you could get away with it and you didn't. Sorry. It doesn't work like that. You got caught by Principal Goodell. It's time to go to detention, fellas. That Super Bowl you won against Indy a while back? There's talk that it may be tainted. I admire your bravado, especially after Katrina but you went over the edge.Â Not only did you cross the line, you wiped it off the face of theÂ Earth.Â You could have stopped this and you didn't.
It's sort of like a teenager coming home three hours after curfew. This is the monster that you created. No good can come from this. You made the Frankenstein, it attacked the village and the villagers are pissed off and have torches and pitchforks. Time to grow up. The chippiness has made you the worst like people on the planet and I would not be shocked or suprised if you're made the butt of jokes on Leno or Letterman. Â
Saints fans are upset. I get it. At the same time, the organization should have taken action to stop this before it got out of hand and they didn't. At least they're admitting to the mistake.
When April 1st rolls around, it will be Palm Sunday as well as April Fool's Day. For head coach Sean Peyton, it will not be a happy Suinday or year for him. He's been banned for oneÂ year without pay. Also, the team will lose its second round pick in 2012 and '13 and pay $500,000 as a result of the NFL's bounty investigation. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who left to go to St. Louis and who orchestrated the program, has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis faces an eight-game suspension, while Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt is also suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2012 season.Â I don't think that these men will be able to appeal since they are not covered by the new collective bargaining agreement.
It's going to be interesting in the NFC South when things kick off in September.Â Those who forget the pastÂ tend toÂ repeat theÂ past. In this case, the Saints tried to channel the spirit of Buddy Ryan. You did this to yourselves. You shot yourselves in the foot and expect us to pay for the gun, the ammo, the trip to the ER and clean up the blood. Sorry.
You were once a well-respected organization. It's gonna take a lot to clean this mess up. Â Let's hope that the other 31 teams get the message.