The first set of punishments issued to the New Orleans Saints for their involvement in a bounty program were released on Wednesday. The severity of the punishments have been debated for weeks, but the news of the actual penalties definitely shocked the sports world.
In a statement regarding the punishments, Commissioner Roger Goodell was quoted as saying, “We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities.” And that was pretty obvious.
General Manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for 8 games of the upcoming season. Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt received a six game suspension and a $100,000 fine. The Saints organization was fined $500,000 and lost their second round draft picks for 2012 and 2013. And perhaps the most shocking of all, Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the entire season, and loses his $7.5 million salary.
It is very moving to see a commissioner care so much about the safety of his players. I seem to remember last year Goodell lobbying for an 18 game season, in arguably the most violent organized sport in this country. Surely player safety was at the forefront of that movement.
Player safety was most definitely taken into account when the NFL allegedly hid the dangers of head trauma from their players. That deception has led to several class action lawsuits against the NFL related to injury or concussion. Actually, that would be about 659 lawsuits so far as of this month. These lawsuits are obviously completely unrelated to Goodell’s harsh punishment on a bounty program under his watch.
Goodell also says that the Saints were “out of control.” He told NFL Network, “Clearly, we were lied to…..we were told it was not happening, and it continued for another two years.” Yet of course, the severity of the penalties had more to do with the actual crime, than the deception. Of course.
In 2007 it was found that the Green Bay Packers participated in an “incentive pool” with their defensive players. In this situation, the league investigated, and the pay for play ended. Thus, no fines or suspensions.
Was it incredibly stupid for the Saints to continue a bounty program after they had been warned to end it? Absolutely. This could have all been avoided. It’s just going to be difficult to convince me that there were not other motives behind a punishment this severe.
And we have not even found out what the players’ suspensions will be. Based off of this latest news, the commish will not be treading lightly.
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