The never shy to penalize NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has cracked down once again. However, this time it was not against a player, but instead against those within the management ranks.
Goodell suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for 1 year for his role in the team's bounty system that rewarded defensive players for laying injurious hits on opposing players, according to Yahoo News.
Additionally, the mastermind behind the bounty system, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now employed by the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely by the league.
Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended for 6.
All of those punished have been suspended without pay, which means Payton must relinquish the entirety of his $7.5 million salary during his suspension that begins on April 1.
The penalties imposed are unprecedented, as they mark the harshest sanctions imposed upon a head coach in NFL history
Payton was reportedly "stunned" by the news. "No, I'm not OK," he reflected in an interview with Fox Sports' Jay Glazier.
Further, the Saints must also pay a $500,00 fine and lose their rights to their 2nd-round picks in both 2012 and 2013.
"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," said Goodell in an issued statement. "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."
Although, Payton was not active in dispersing bounty payments to members of the Saints defense Goodell felt that in the end his lack of action served as a tacit endorsement of the bounties.
Goodell's position is understandable when considering that NFL has ramped up its policy to provide a safer environment for its players of late. If Goodell would have looked the other way here or had he only imposed minor sanctions he would have established a double standard regarding player safety.
Although Payton was not an active member in handing out bounty payments, his punishment demonstrates Goodell's belief that the captain must go down with the ship. He is the face of the Saints and accordingly he must answer the bell in both good times and bad.
Goodell also emphasized that the Saints lied to him during the NFL probe. It is unclear whether that added to the punishments, but it almost assuredly did.
It is also unclear whether those penalized will try to appeal the punishments issued by the NFL, through the appeals process provided in the CBA. Considering the lack of success in pro sports appeals it would be wise for Payton and the others to accept the suspensions.
Although unlikely, maybe they can channel their inner-Ryan Braun and receive a reduced punishment.
What do you think?
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