Saints Slammed By NFL For Bounties

The NFL came down hard on the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday. I as most Saints fans are saddened and shocked by the severity of this punishment.

 See article below.

Summary of Saints’ punishment

NFL• Saints coach Sean Payton suspended without pay for 2012 season, effective April 1.

• Ex-Saints (and current Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams suspended indefinitely, effective immediately. Commissioner Roger Goodell will review Williams’ status at conclusion of ’12 season.

• Saints fined $500,000.

• Saints forfeit second-round picks in the ’12 and ’13 NFL drafts.

• Saints GM Mickey Loomis suspended without pay for first eight regular-season games of the ’12 season.

• Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season.

• The Saints, individuals disciplined are expected to participate in efforts to develop programs that will instruct on:
– Respect for game and those who participate in it
– Principles of fair play, safety and sportsmanship
– Ensure bounties will not be part of football at any level.

 

Saints coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight regular-season games, the team was fined $500,000 and lost two second-round draft picks (one in 2012 and ’13) as a result of a bounty program conducted by the team during the 2009-11 seasons that targeted opposing players.

Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt also was suspended six games and fined $100,000. The NFL said in its statement that the suspensions for Payton, Loomis and Vitt are without pay.

Payton’s suspension is effective April 1. Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet with Williams after the 2012 season and determine the coach’s status.

Payton’s season-long suspension without pay will cost him $7.5 million, sources familiar with the contract extension the Saints coach signed before the 2011 season told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. Payton also had incentives that could potentially have boosted his pay above the $7.5 million salary.

Williams will lose in excess of his $2 million-plus in salary for the ’12 season with his status beyond still undetermined due to his status of indefinite suspension.

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game,” Goodell said in a statement announcing the punishments. “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.

“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” Goodell said. “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.”

Punishment for any Saints players involved will be determined later, because the league is still reviewing the case with the NFL Players Association.

The Saints now must decide who will coach the team while Payton is barred and who will make roster moves while Loomis is out.

Goodell also sent a memo to the owners of all 32 NFL teams to make sure their clubs are not offering bounties. The memo instructs each team’s principal owner and head coach to certify in writing by March 30 that no pay-for-performance system exists.

Details of an NFL investigation released at the beginning on March reported that the Saints’ bounty program gave thousands of dollars in payoffs to players for hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games. The NFL said the amounts reached their height in 2009, the season the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Williams, now defensive coordinator of the Rams, has admitted to and apologized for running the program.

Payton and Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that “happened under our watch,” but not until almost a week after the NFL pointed to them for failing to stop the program.

The NFL said payoffs went to 22 to 27 defensive players for inflicting game-ending injuries on targeted opponents, including quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.

 

“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.

– Roger Goodell

 

All payouts for specific performances in a game, including interceptions or causing fumbles, are against NFL rules. The NFL warns teams against such practices before each season, although in the aftermath of the revelations about the Saints, current and former players from various teams talked about that sort of thing happening frequently — although not on the same scale as the NFL found in New Orleans.

Goodell has frequently taken a hard line on any action that threatens player safety. He suspended Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh for two games for stomping on an opponent last season; banned Pittsburgh’s James Harrison for one game after a series of flagrant hits that culminated in a collision with Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy‘s helmet; and has ramped up the amount of fines for what the league terms “egregious hits.”

The Saints’ punishment dwarfs the penalty given to the New England Patriots for the 2007 Spygate scandal.

Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000 and their coach, Bill Belichick, $500,000, when the team was caught illegally videotaping the Jets’ sideline. New England also was stripped of a first-round draft pick.

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