Fallen Saints

NFL's punishment for 'bounty' scheme should be harsher

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The punishment was unprecedented.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton deserves more than a year's suspension for running a shady bounty system that rewarded the intentional injury of players.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton deserves more than a year's suspension for running a shady bounty system that rewarded the intentional injury of players.

And it wasn’t harsh enough.

This week, the National Football League suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton for a year without pay after discovering he operated a disgusting “bounty” system. He paid his defensive players bonuses for injuring opposing players harshly enough to render them unable to play.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Payton’s repulsive scheme “particularly unusual and egregious” and “totally unacceptable.”

He could’ve added the word “criminal,” because that’s exactly what it smells like.

We know football is a rough sport. Pain has been a part of American football since its inception. But the physicality of football is carefully controlled violence.

The Saints sunk to barbarity. What Payton and his players perpetrated – conspiring to inflict lasting bodily harm on others, and under-the-table money changing hands because of it – sounds like a criminally prosecutable offense. What if these same assaults erupted among ordinary street thugs and not on a football field? It would lead to arrests and jail, most likely.

Credit Goodell for zero tolerance, and for swift and decisive action against this rotten conspiracy that was the utter polar opposite of good sportsmanship.

The punishment didn’t stop with Payton. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, has been banned indefinitely. The NFL also banned Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games next season, and assistant coach Joe Vitt for the first six games.

Goodell also fined the Saints $500,000 and took away the team’s second-round draft picks this year and next.

Was that enough?


First, the $500,000 fine. That’s it? To a professional sports franchise, half-a-million might as well be a parking ticket. It would be much more appropriate if the fine were jacked up closer to $5 million.

And should any of the coaches involved ever take the field to help lead a team again? Remember this quote from Williams (emphasis ours): “It was a terrible mistake. And we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”

Let that sink in. The NFL and the Saints had already told Payton to make sure that his system of extra cash payouts vanished. Payton heard them – and kept doing it anyway.

That’s not a little “whoops” mistake. That’s willful disobedience. That’s thumbing his nose to his superiors. Payton might as well have hung a framed certificate on his office wall that read: “I simply don’t care about the rules or fair play.”

Several athletes across several sports have received lifetime professional bans, often for repeated drug use. They were injuring themselves.

Should a punishment be any less for a coach who encouraged and rewarded injuring others?

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BlackJack7 03/24/12 - 01:53 am
Boss Goddell should have

Boss Goddell should have yanked their 2010 Super Bowl crown - they bountied their way to the title - didnt win it honorably like the other past champions have.

Riverman1 03/24/12 - 07:51 am
A little reality. First it

A little reality. First it was a very harsh penalty. It was unprecedented. The talk is all about how tough Goodell was in this matter.

Secondly, bounties have been around forever. Buddy Ryan, the beloved defensive coach of the champion Chicago Bears used to talk openly about them. The next time you want to write an editorial on a sports matter, you better let the sport's guys do it.

Haki 03/24/12 - 08:07 am
Payton didn't operate it, he

Payton didn't operate it, he did know it existed and didn't take the necessary steps to stop it. Yes, he should be suspended, but an entire season, 5.8 million! The NFL should really stop it. Payton as well as the NFL knew of Greg Williams system and NEITHER did nothing. It took a disgruntled player to report this years later for action to be taken. And for the person who says take their championship, sit down. The falcons don't need anymore company in their ring of scrubs.

freeradical 03/24/12 - 09:16 am
Why would you expect anything

Why would you expect anything less? New Orleans has always been a dirty town.
With the rightful reputation as being the flim-flam capital of the world,
as well as the murder captial

DuhJudge 03/24/12 - 09:25 am
After a torn MCL, a broken

After a torn MCL, a broken leg, and a golf cart ride off the field you think Payton was thinking about bounties?

I think the word "bounty" is the the inflaming culprit here. Change the word to "tip" and the whole story changes complexion. Football is a tough "business". Football is a rough "occupation." Football is a mean "passtime." If you believe that the Saints are alone in this "tipping scheme" then I say you need to change the channel.

Jake 03/24/12 - 11:22 am
I keep hearing the "everybody

I keep hearing the "everybody else does it" excuse but have yet to read about any other team being outed for this practice. If it is so widespread and rampant throughout the NFL, like some claim, then it surely is not so hard to find another disgruntled player who would "rat" on another team.

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