Saints Get Hammered By League For Bounty-gate

League hands down penalties today for key role players in the New Orleans Saints bounty program. Sean Payton out for a year, assistant Joe Vitt six game and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams out 'indefinately.'

The hammer came down from the NFL today from commissioner Roger Goodell with penalties for the bounty investigation announced on March 2.
Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season, effective April 1. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games and fined $500,000. Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been suspended six games. The Saints were fined $500,000 and docked second-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts.

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL, effective immediately. He will miss at least the 2012 season and his status will be reviewed at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Discipline for individual players remains under review with the NFL Players Association and will be determined at a later date.

In a league release, commissioner Roger Goodell said, "We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.

"A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious. 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."

The program included bounty 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

Saints Coach Payton Stunned

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told he's "not OK" with the one-year suspension he received for inaction in the bounty scandal involving defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Peyton must serve a one-year ban beginning April 1 and Williams was suspended indefinitely.

In addition, the succession plan the team had in place for the first four games of the 2012 season -- Payton's expectation for the punishment coming down Wednesday -- was imploded when assistant head coach Joe Vitt was also suspended six games.

"No, I'm not OK," Payton told Jay Glazer of FOX after the league's ruling.

The report said Payton could lose as much as $8 million in the year away from the game.

"Bounty programs have no place in our game," commissioner Roger Goodell stated in announcing that all 32 NFL teams must ensure no bounty programs exist effectively immediately. "They are incompatible with our efforts to promote sportsmanship, fair play, and player safety."

The Payton suspension, without pay, was based on the following turned up in the NFL investigation, according to a league release:
"When interviewed in 2012, Sean Payton claimed to be entirely unaware of the program, a claim contradicted by others. Further, prior to the Saints' opening game in 2011, Coach Payton received an email from a close associate that stated in part, 'PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers (sic).' When shown the email during the course of the investigation, Coach Payton stated that it referred to a bounty on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"In early 2010, Mr. Loomis advised Coach Payton that the league office was investigating allegations concerning a bounty program. Coach Payton said that he met with his top two defensive assistants, Coach Williams and Coach Vitt, in advance of the interview with league investigators and told them, 'Let's make sure our ducks are in a row.' Remarkably, Coach Payton claimed that he never inquired of Coach Williams and Coach Vitt as to what happened in the interviews, never asked them if a "pay-for-performance" or bounty program was in fact in place, and never gave any instructions to discontinue such a program.

"In January 2012, prior to the Saints' first playoff game of the 2011 season, Coach Payton was advised by Mr. Loomis that the league office had reopened the investigation. Coach Payton made a cursory inquiry but took no action to ensure that any bounty program was discontinued."

Minus Payton and Vitt, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, hired to replace Williams in February, or offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael would likely serve as head coach in 2012. Spagnuolo was head coach of the Rams, fired at the end of last season, before joining the Saints

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