Saints coach ban: Drew Brees "speechless," other players stunned

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks on against the Detroit Lions during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Kevin C. Cox

Drew Brees says he is "speechless" after Saints head coach was suspended for the 2012 season by the NFL.
Kevin C. Cox

The NFL hammer came down hard on "Bountygate" and the Twitter reaction came just as forcefully.

Commissioner Roger Goodell doled out unprecedented punishment Wednesday for bounties paid out on big hits, suspending New Orleans Saints coach Sean Paytonwithout pay for the 2012 season and indefinitely banning the team's former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who now works for the St. Louis Rams.

Payton, who led the Saints to the Super Bowl title in 2009, becomes the first head coach suspended by the league for any reason.

Minutes after the NFL announced the punishment, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees reacted on Twitter:

Last week, Brees said what bothered him most about the bounty probe is that the Saints are being portrayed as a bunch of "hit men."

Brees was among dozens of NFL players who reacted with shock on Twitter. Even Steelers defensive star James Harrison - who knows a thing or two about being disciplined by Goodell - was stunned:

Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry called the suspension "harsh" before suggesting the hypocrisy behind the punishment:

But not everyone on Twitter was surprised. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy agreed with the punishment:

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe also supported Goodell's punishment:

But in the end, the only opinion that matters belongs to Goodell, who called the bounty program "particularly unusual and egregious" and "totally unacceptable."

Goodell's harsh punishment is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that the NFL currently faces more than 20 concussion-related lawsuits brought by hundreds of former players.

Said the commissioner: "No one is above the game or the rules that govern it."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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