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Goodell Drops Mammoth Penalty on Sean Peyton, Saints

Goodell Drops Mammoth Penalty on Sean Peyton, Saints

"A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious." If you're a Saints fan, this is not how you were hoping the news release on the punishment for the New Orleans Saints would start. For the "off-season," we are are dealing with a lot of NFL news! Blockbuster draft trades, a living legend quarterback's release and signing, a very active free agency, and now the major news of Roger Goodell's punishment of the New Orleans Saints. For those who haven't been following the story, earlier this month the news broke that the NFL was investigating the New Orleans Saints for operating a bounty program from 2009 to 2011. Greg Williams, former Saints defensive coordinator, was accused of implementing a system in which defensive players would be rewarded cash bonuses for causing injury to other team's players. This spawned a massive debate on the violent culture of the sport, while the NFL finished its investigation and Commissioner Roger Goodell decided what punishment to deliver. Most everyone agrees the punishments were going to be harsh. But few expected them to be as harsh as we find out today they are. There are the punishments that were announced today in a news release from Roger Goodell and the NFL:
  • The New Orleans Saints are fined $500,000, and forfeit their 2nd round picks of the 2012 and 2013 drafts.
  • Head Coach Sean Payton is suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season.
  • Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended for the first 8 regular-season games of 2012.
  • Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, pending further review from Goodell at the end of the 2012 season.
  • Saints assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended for the first 6 regular-season games of 2012.
These are historically large penalties for non-criminal, non-drug related offenses. A coach has never before been suspended for league violations, let alone for an entire season. The Greg Williams suspension is harsher, but less surprising given his central role in the program. The fine, by comparison, is light - as are the loss of draft picks. To add salt to the wound, Joe Vitt was the go-to for interim coach in Peyton's absence, and he will miss half the season as well. And you have to feel for the St. Louis Rams, who had no involvement in the bounty program other than the bad fortune of having hired the defensive coordinator who orchestrated it. For a head coach to miss an entire season, especially a coach as well-respected and beloved by his players and staff as Peyton, will be a massive detriment to the Saints program. Not to mention that these suspensions are all without pay, and thus Peyton is looking at losing around 8 million dollars this year. He is, as you might expect, rather stunned. And so is his quarterback. But let us address the allegations in the NFL's news release. It paints a very dark, grim picture. It charges that both Greg Williams and Sean Peyton knowingly lied to the NFL about their knowledge of the bounty program and efforts to investigate it, and continued to do so after knowing the NFL was investigating them. Furthermore, Peyton is accused of encouraging others in the organization to participate in the cover-up. Combine this dishonesty with the fact that this is in direct contention with the efforts Goodell has made to promote player safety as the NFL's primary concern, and you have prodded the bear right where it hurts. "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." Goodell's purpose with this punishment was to send a message. He certainly seems to have achieved that.
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