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NFL Suspends Saints Coach Sean Payton for Entire Year for Bounty Violations

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The NFL has put a major hurtin’ on the New Orleans Saints for “bounty” program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams – Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for an entire season starting April 1, and the Saints will lose their second-round picks in 2012 and 2013.

Among the other punishments:

  • Payton will have to pay a half-million-dollar fine.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis gets an eight-game suspension and a half-million-dollar fine.
  • Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt gets suspended without pay for six games.
  • Williams has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely. He left the Saints at the end of last season and now works for the St. Louis Rams.

Williams was apparently running a cash pool where players were paid $1,500 for a “knockout” and $1,000 for a “cart-off.” In other words, players were being paid to seriously hurt their opponents. The players funded the cash pool, which allegedly reached as high as $50,000. Payouts doubled or even tripled during the playoffs.

Here’s what USA Today had to say about it:

Williams administered the program, and the NFL says Payton was not a direct participant, yet was aware of the allegations and “failed to stop the bounty program…”

…Payton and Loomis took “full responsibility” for the violations in a joint statement issued days after the findings, and later met with (Commissioner Roger) Goodell in New York to discuss the issue.

The pair apologized for the “unique hardship” on team owner Tom Benson, recognized the severity of the violations, and promised that they “will never happen again.”

Williams, who left the Saints this offseason to become defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, apologized for his program, which he reportedly also implemented in several other NFL cities. Commissioner Goodell will review Williams’ status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him.

“I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again,” Williams said.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma became the player face of the program following an SI.com report describing his $10,000 offer to any player who could knock Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

So, what do you think? Is this fair, or does this go too far?

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