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NFL Comes Down Hard On New Orleans Saints For 'Bounty-Gate'

You knew NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was going to come down hard on the New Orleans Saints in the 'Bounty-Gate' situation. But, this hard? The penalties announced today by the NFL are more severe than I think anyone could have imagined.

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The penalties include:

  • The Saints have been fined $500,000. In addition, because the violation involves a competitive rule, the Saints will forfeit their selections in the second round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts.
  • Saints head coach Sean Payton is suspended without pay for the entire 2012 NFL season, effective April 1.
  • Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season.
  • Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately. Commissioner Goodell will review Coach Williams' status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms. Commissioner Goodell said he will give close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings.
  • Saints assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season.

The Saints' "bounty" program included payments for "knock-outs" and "cart-offs," plays on which an opposing player was forced to leave the game. At times, the bounties even targeted specific players by name.

"Beyond the clear and continuing violations of league rules, and lying to investigators, the bounty program is squarely contrary to the league's most important initiatives - enhancing player health and safety and protecting the integrity of the game," Goodell said. "Let me be clear. There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness, and safety. Programs of this kind have no place in our game and we are determined that bounties will no longer be a part of the NFL."

All I can say is, 'wow.'