New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in Bountygate, the NFL announced on Wednesday.
In addition to suspending Payton for a full season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games; fined the Saints $500,000 and second round draft picks in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who was expected to fill in for Payton, has also been suspended for six games and fined $100,000.
Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the supposed ringleader of the bounty system, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Williams will be out for the entire year and the issue won't be looked at again until 2013.
The measure is extremely strong, but it's clear that Goodell wanted to send a serious message that a bounty system would not have a place under his reign in the NFL.
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, Commissioner Goodell said in a 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. 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.
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The Saints were caught offering financial incentives to injuring opposing players with Williams and Payton at the helm. One specific example involved a $10,000 bonus for any Saints player that knocked then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship game. The Saints battered Favre all game before winning and eventually winning the organization's first Super Bowl.