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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell slammed the New Orleans Saints "bounty" program. "A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious." Goodell's statement also said, "a strong and lasting message must be sent."
In an unprecedented move Goodall suspended head coach Sean Payton without pay for the 2012 season, ordered Saints to forfeit second round draft picks for two years, indefinitely suspended former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, suspended GM Micky Loonis for 8 games, suspended assistanct coach Joe Vitt for six games and fined the organization $500,000. This all stems from New Orleans coaches offering cash bounties to their players for targeting/injuirng opposing players.
Good for Goodall. A harsh sentence for unsportsmanlike conduct. It's no secret NFL players try their best to levy hits to remember against opponents. But, it's another thing when coaches offer cash "bounties" to take out opponents.
Payton becomes the first NFL coach suspended for any reason. He's been accused of covering up extra cash bonuses to players by ignoring instructions from the NFL and Saints ownership to make sure bounties weren't being paid (after the league first caught wind last season). The NFL took down Payton for "falsely deny that the program existed," and for trying to "encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to 'make sure our ducks are in a row."
This was as blatent as it gets in professional football. Coaches paying players to inflict harm. I can guarantee you bounties exist far beyond the NFL. I'm willing to bet it happens in college & high school football too (probably without cash payments).
Football is a tough game. New Orleans will pay a heavy price for their actions. Quite frankly, losing second round draft picks for two years isn't harsh enough. First round picks are justified in a situation where the commissioner's office directly forewarned Saints coaches to end this practice - they did not. No denials coming from New Orleans either. Plenty of apologies - suggesting this practice was in place for at least a few seasons.
Hats off to NFL officials on using the Saints as examples. I'm amazed their shenangan's remained a secret for this long. It shouldn't surprise anyone to learn this practice has been in place with many teams in the past. Hard to imagine legendary Bears, Raiders and a handful of others not instituting bounties. There's one glaring difference - the NFL will no longer put up with this kind of behavior.