NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – The National Football League dropped the discipline hammer on the New Orleans Saints for the team's bounty program which rewarded players for hits that knocked out other players or forced them to be carted off the field.
While individual player discipline has not been determined, the NFL did release the details of the penalties handed down to the Saints and the penalties could be devastating to the organization.
"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," Commissioner Goodell said. "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."
As an organization, the Saints were fined $500,000 and were stripped of its second-round draft picks in both the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts. While the loss of draft picks hurt, the league came down much harder on the coaches and front office staff involved with the program.
The NFL suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season. The suspension will be effective April 1. The league also suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games in 2012.
Both Payton and Loomis were suspended without pay.
The potentially harshest punishment was handed down to former Saints, and current St. Louis Rams, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The NFL said Williams personally handled the program and even gave pay outs to players.
Williams was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, effective immediately. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will review Williams' status at the end of the 2012 season and will then determine if Williams can return to the league.
The NFL said Goodell would monitor Williams through the suspension and will give "close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams cooperates with the NFL in further proceedings."
"While I will not address player conduct at this time, I am profoundly troubled by the fact that players – including leaders among the defensive players – embraced this program so enthusiastically and participated with what appears to have been a deliberate lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow players," Commissioner Goodell said.
"We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game," Commissioner Goodell said. "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," Commissioner Goodell continued. "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."
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