The NFL announced today that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will be suspended for one season without pay for his involvement in the team’s bounty program and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely.
The team has also been fined $500,000 and will have to give up its second round draft picks in the 2012 and 2013 NFL draft.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for 8 games. Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been suspended without pay for the first six games of this season.
Jay Glazer reports that Payton was stunned by the announcement. Glazer asked if Payton was ok, he said, “No, I’m not ok.”
No penalties were announced for players at this time. The NFL originally indicated that 22 to 27 players were also involved in the “pay for performance” program, but the NFLPA had requested that the NFL hold off on penalties until the NFLPA could finish its own investigation. The league initially denied the request, but the penalties announced today are limited to the club and the coaching staff.
The league had said that penalties would be harsh, and this is as close to a death penalty ruling that the NFL has ever issued. It’s going to be a rough year in New Orleans as they deal with the repercussions from this, but the punishment has to fit the crime.
Football is a violent sport, but there is no room for rewarding players for inflicting injuries. The NFL has elected to make an example of the Saints, and given commissioner Goodell’s focus on player safety, the penalties had to be harsh.
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