Players React To Saints Punishment

Saints franchised quarterback Drew Brees just can't believe the penalties laid down on the New Orleans organization. Neither can other players around the league.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees needs an explanation.

He's not alone.

The team Brees has led for the past six years was punished severely on Wednesday for participating in a bounty system under the watch of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"I am speechless," Brees wrote on his Twitter account. "Sean Payton is a great man, coach, and mentor. The best there is. I need to hear an explanation for this punishment."

Payton was suspended for the 2012 season without pay. Williams, now the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, was suspended indefinitely. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was fined and suspended for eight games, and the team forfeited its second-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts.

Also, there is a strong possibility that players such as linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who reportedly played a significant role in the bounty program, will also be disciplined.
Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said the team has to live with the ruling, but took issue with how the players are being portrayed.

"We play a violent game," Greer told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "So that is, my spirit and my soul is moving me to words to say that people are painting us as mercenaries for hire. They are painting us as thugs. We're fathers, we're professionals, and we are men.

"We have to live with it. But the punishment that was imposed, it seems as if they are trying to destroy our season. They are trying to take away our leaders, take away our leadership. But it's not going to happen. We are New Orleans. We will be strong, we will get through this, we will fight through this, and we will win. It's not gonna happen."

As the team's leader, Brees has a personal interest in what happens to the franchise he helped build into a perennial Super Bowl contender. The team will likely turn to either Pete Carmichael or defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to run the team in Payton's absence.

Ironically, Spagnuolo was hired nine weeks ago to replace Williams, after having been fired after three seasons as head coach of the St. Louis Rams. The Rams, meanwhile, hired Williams as new head coach Jeff Fisher's defensive coordinator, and will now have to find a replacement.

These will be much more to come in the Saints universe. For now, many NFL players have weighed in on the decision.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, no stranger to league discipline, simply tweeted: "OMG! That's unreal!"

Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy applauded the ruling: "I commend Commissioner Goodell on his discipline of the NO Saints. Coaches and front office should be held to a higher standard than players."

Oakland Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry thought the punishment was "a little harsh," while Steelers safety Ryan Clark offered a more personal response.

"Regardless of what people think of him that don't know him Greg Williams changed the course of my football career. I am forever grateful!" Clark tweeted.

Finally, there was some levity, provided by Rams' safety Quintin Mikell.

"This Will Get Rid [of] Any Bounty In The NFL...I'm Throwing Out My Bounty Paper Towels Just To Be Safe!!

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