Those who were surprised by the severity of punishments handed down by Roger Goodell to the New Orleans Saints need only look to the recent lawsuits filed against the league by former players.
Lawsuits filed Monday even cite the Saints bounty program specifically.
It was fairly clear that Goodell was not only handing down discipline and sending a message, but more importantly, he was protecting the NFL for current and future lawsuits.
Former players continue to sue the NFL for long-term injuries suffered while playing. And the NFL continues to attempt to demonstrate a proactive effort to protect players in order to mitigate the risk of these suits.
Despite the NFL’s verbiage over the past few years, the rules changes to protect players are not altruistic. They are quite simply to protect the NFL’s fortune now and in the future.