NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lowered the boom on the New Orleans
Saints today, penalizing team management for violations of the NFL’s long-standing “bounty” rule that endangered player safety over a three-year period.
The NFL’s investigation established the existence of an active bounty program on the Saints during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons in violation of league rules, a deliberate effort to conceal the program’s existence from league investigators, and a clear determination to maintain the program despite express direction from Saints ownership that it stop as well as ongoing inquiries from the league office.
Commissioner Goodell imposed the following sanctions on the Saints:
— Fined the Saints $500,000 and ruled that the Saints must forfeit their
selections in the second round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts.
— Suspended Head Coach Sean Payton without pay for the 2012 NFL season,
effective April 1.
— Suspended Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis without pay for the first
eight regular season games of the 2012 season
— Suspended St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately. (Williams was the
Saints Def. Coordinator. during the time in question) Commissioner Goodell
will review Williams’ status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and
consider whether to reinstate him, and if so, on what terms. Goodell
said he will give close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams
cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings.
— Suspended Saints assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt without pay for the
first six regular-season games of the 2012 season
— The Saints and the individuals disciplined today are expected to
participate in efforts led by the league office to develop programs that
will instruct players and coaches at all levels of the game on the need
for respect for the game and those who participate in it, on principles of
fair play, safety and sportsmanship, and to ensure that bounties will not be
part of football at any level.
Harsh? The league may not be done yet. Commissioner Goodell said he will separately address potential sanctions for players and others with documented involvement in the bounty program.
If this kind of activity has gone on with other teams in the NFL, league officials say they have no knowledge of it.
For those that highly paid professional athletes and coaches get away with too much, certainly must now think otherwise. The announced penalties, across the board, are as severe as can possibly be imagined.
How will it affect the Saints? It’s hard to know the answer to that. But it certainly isn’t going to be good, especially once we see just how many players were involved.
It’s Roger Goodell’s job to act in the best interest of the NFL and act against those whose actions are against the well-being of the league. It’s not a proud moment for the NFL, but Goodell certainly put his best foot forward today!