Goodell sends right message, slamming Saints, Payton

It was Gregg Williams' (right) bounty program, but Sean Payton allowed him to do it. (AP photo)

It was Gregg Williams' (right) bounty program, but Sean Payton allowed him to do it. (AP photo)

(Last updated: 2:20 p.m.)

Roger Goodell got it right Wednesday – not just for coming down hard on the New Orleans Saints in general and coach Sean Payton in particular, but for slamming somebody who doesn’t wear a uniform.

The NFL commissioner suspended Payton, the Saints’ head coach, for the entire 2012 season for his role in the team’s bounty program. He also suspended former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with St. Louis) for at least one year, assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games and general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games. The Saints also will lose two second-round draft picks (2012 and 2013) and must pay a $500,000 fine.

The Saints will be allowed to keep their shoes.

Player discipline will be forthcoming. But the punishment against Payton and the team, while harsh, is justified. The Saints not only implemented a bounty program that “endangered player safety over a three-year period,” quoting from the NFL’s official news release (or jury verdict), but they lied about it. Allegations regarding the 2009 Super Bowl season initially were investigated in 2010, but couldn’t be proved. Team officials denied it then, and again this past season when new evidence surfaced.

The league referenced, “a deliberate effort to conceal the program’s existence from league investigators, and a clear determination to maintain the program despite express direction from Saints ownership that it stop as well as ongoing inquiries from the league office.”

If we know one thing about Roger Goodell, it’s that he doesn’t like being lied to.

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game,” he said. “We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities.”

Don’t confuse the NFL’s licensed violence with premeditated assault. As former Chicago Bears safety Doug Plank said two weeks ago, “I can’t believe a coach, a team or an organization would stand behind that [bounty] policy. For a coach to even address something like that with players, like, ‘This is a person we can remove from the game,’ that puts you on pretty thin ice.”

Given the backdrop, it's safe to assume this photo was taken back when Goodell was welcome at the Saints' facility. (AP photo)

Given the backdrop, it's safe to assume this photo was taken back when Goodell was welcome at the Saints' facility. (AP photo)

The investigation revealed the Saints placed bounties on four opposing quarterbacks: Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner. It said the Saints’ Jonathan Vilma “offered $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the [2009] NFC championship game.”

Was it Goodell’s objective to make an example of the Saints? Absolutely. His mission is to “protect the shield.” The ripple effect of this punishment will be felt in 31 other front offices.

But this particularly sends a great message to players. Goodell has been known as “the discipline” commissioner. For the past several seasons, he has come down hard on players for on- and off-the-field actions that he believes casts the league in a negative light. There has been a perception he is not equally tough on coaches or team officials. (An exception: “Spygate.” Goodell disciplined the New England Patriots for videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive hand signals in 2007 and took a first-round draft pick away from the team.)

Goodell largely is viewed as the owners’ guy. Of course, he is. He works for the 32 NFL owners, not the 1,700 players. That was reaffirmed with several comments he made during collective-bargaining talks and the lockout before last season.

But there is no dispute here. If Goodell didn’t wreck the Saints, he certainly left them doubled-over.

A recent Super Bowl winner – and the Falcons’ primary competition in the NFC South – just lost its head coach (Payton), his top assistant (Vitt) and its general manager (Loomis). The $500,000 fine means little. The two second-round picks mean significantly more.

Saints owner Tom Benson will not invite Goodell to dinner at Commander’s Palace any time soon.

Goodell said the involvement of players is still being reviewed and punishment will be decided at a future time. But coming down on those not wearing the uniforms is significant. He made the right call.

By Jeff Schultz

562 comments Add your comment

dean

March 21st, 2012
1:30 pm

SeenThisB4….Where Are You?

To be honest, I’m shocked at the punishment. Oh well!

Thomas Dimitroff is the problem

March 21st, 2012
1:37 pm

“I did not have sexual relationships with that ‘real’ woman” – Drew Brees

LMBO!!!

March 21st, 2012
1:40 pm

Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat say gonne COACH Dem Saints? Who Dat?????

Buckeye

March 21st, 2012
1:40 pm

Opens the door for Cam to take, unfortunately, the NFC South.

Mike "SO-SO" Vick

March 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

WHO DAT, WHO DERE? WE FOLDING UP SHOP.

Thomas Dimitroff is the problem

March 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

“Major ‘real’ combat operations in Iraq are over. ‘Real’ Mission Accomplished. We will find Saddam’s ‘real’ Weapons of Mass Destruction.” – Drew W. Brees

Stonethtower

March 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

Good call Dictator Goodell!

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

hay anyone “Seen” Sean Payton. Nope. try next year!!

Frank Wren

March 21st, 2012
1:42 pm

Take their SB away

Sad to say it

March 21st, 2012
1:42 pm

Sad thing is they’ll still win the South

Surreal Housewife of Atlanta

March 21st, 2012
1:42 pm

I can’t wait for the Saints fans to make this some sort of conspiracy.

You want a real conspiracy? How about the year you won the Superbowl with so many questionable calls. This is why Goodell came down hard. He gave you a Superbowl and you went out and behaved poorly instead of being thankful for the gift you received.

Way to go NFL

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:42 pm

wa-ha ha ha ha ha ha ah-ha

Gritz Blitz

March 21st, 2012
1:42 pm

Tonight I will toast this news with a nice cold one. Cheers to Roger Goodell for handling this appropriately. No team has ever been more deserving.

Benjamin

March 21st, 2012
1:43 pm

I’m shocked he nailed Payton like he did, but at the same time, good on him.

It’s about time he picked on someone other than Jerome Harrison… lol

DawgNole

March 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Yeah, it will be interesting to see the comments of the obnoxious Saints fans who’re always running their yaps on these Falcon blogs. Hopefully the number of them making an appearance will be significantly reduced as they come to grips with the morals of the team they so strongly support. In any event, you can bet that those who do show up will be in a high level of denial.

BW

March 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Bubba Bean

March 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!!!!

BW

March 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Enter your comments here

Herschel Talker

March 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Schultzie:

Finally, we Falcons fans have something to celebrate.

HT

KC

March 21st, 2012
1:45 pm

In college they would vacate wins for something like this. Why not vacate their Super Bowl season too!?

belly a jigglin'

March 21st, 2012
1:45 pm

hahahahahahaha

Bourbon Street dancer

March 21st, 2012
1:46 pm

I don’t get it. The Pats are caught cheating and nothing. Vick kills dogs and lies to everyone and he is still playing. Ray Lewis comes here, commits murder and nothing. Saints play hard, old school football and they get punished?

I smell a conspiracy here.

JM Friloux

March 21st, 2012
1:46 pm

You would think it fitting being a Falcons fan. Had this harsh penalty been blasted upon your beloved Dirty Birds, you would be singing a different tune. Don’t even try to make the argument that they don’t do it, either. I’m sure it happens on almost every team… I’m not saying it happens on every team… If this penalty sticks, the NFL needs to retroactively suspend Bill Bellichick for one season, and then investigate EVERY team in the NFL for both videotaping other teams AND running pay for performance programs. Every coach would be suspended for a year! Roger Goodell needs to realize that he actually works for the fans. If it weren’t for us, he certainly wouldn’t have the cush job with a great paycheck and benefits that he has. He is ruining the NFL (not just for the Saints, BTW). It barely resembles the game that it was even ten years ago. Mr Schulz, if you would like to respond, you have my email address.

Buckeye

March 21st, 2012
1:47 pm

What TV booth will Payton show up in? Is he banned from that too?

10

March 21st, 2012
1:47 pm

So how does loomis not being at a game hurt? BFD. Now suspending him from his actual job that would mean something. Missing games for a GM?? Has no effect. He’ll probably enjoy spending his Sundays at home.

ATL Teams = CHOKE

March 21st, 2012
1:47 pm

It doesn’t matter the Falcons are still CHOKERS.

Surreal Housewife of Atlanta

March 21st, 2012
1:47 pm

@ Gritz

Make it a good beer please.

Boo

March 21st, 2012
1:47 pm

Not enough. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life for doing less.

Saintified

March 21st, 2012
1:48 pm

Atlanta will still loose to the Saints, by by black birds!

Falcon Fan

March 21st, 2012
1:48 pm

On behalf of all Falcon fans, I would like to thank the saints for making our road to a division crown more easier.

Jason

March 21st, 2012
1:48 pm

The Aints have been the NFL’s goldenboy ever since Katrina. I’ll never forget that first game back to the Super Dome after, when we played them on Monday night –>> most rigged game ever! Can we please sweep them back under the rug?

Surreal Housewife of Atlanta

March 21st, 2012
1:49 pm

JM Friloux
March 21st, 2012
1:46 pm

You would think it fitting being a Falcons fan. Had this harsh penalty been blasted upon your beloved Dirty Birds, you would be singing a different tune. Don’t even try to make the argument that they don’t do it, either. I’m sure it happens on almost every team… I’m not saying it happens on every team… If this penalty sticks, the NFL needs to retroactively suspend Bill Bellichick for one season, and then investigate EVERY team in the NFL for both videotaping other teams AND running pay for performance programs. Every coach would be suspended for a year! Roger Goodell needs to realize that he actually works for the fans. If it weren’t for us, he certainly wouldn’t have the cush job with a great paycheck and benefits that he has. He is ruining the NFL (not just for the Saints, BTW). It barely resembles the game that it was even ten years ago. Mr Schulz, if you would like to respond, you have my email address.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I haven’t heard that much whining since the wheel bearing in my Chevy gave out.

[...] Saints’ bounty program would be pretty severe. I didn’t think the punishment would be this severe. Roger Goodell has suspended head coach Sean Payton for a year without pay. General manager Mickey [...]

Midway

March 21st, 2012
1:50 pm

The punishment didn’t go far enough, New Orleans should have been stripped of the “Saints” name.

Creole Headbussa

March 21st, 2012
1:50 pm

Jealousy breeds so much envy from you Falclowns. You can talk when you get that Superbowl title! WHO DAT WHO DAT WHO DAT SAY THEY GON BEAT DEM SAINTS!! Definitely not you losers. Check recent history Falclowns. Maybe Matty Mae Ice will get you there soon enough, on second thought? Nope

Bourbon Street dancer

March 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

@ Jason

Can you prove that? I didn’t think so. The only fix here is the outrageous punishment the NFL has handed down for good old school football.

So sisstys like Matty Ryan dont get hurt and cry BOOO HOO!

Just in

March 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

too bad teh falcons have a lousy qb with no arm and lost their best defensive player and have no attack on offense. saints will probably still win the division again. if not them carolina.

Taxi Smith

March 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

Never have liked the Saints, or New Orleans for that matter. It is a nasty city.

Nola

March 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

Well Dirty Bird Funs, do not rejoice, for the Saints as always, even with the heavy handed punishment, will still whoop you twice this season. whana bet?

Big Crimson 75

March 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

I give the Commish credit for following HIS conduct policy.
What applies to Players should defenitely apply to Coaches.
Payton knew what was going on.
The Falcons have to be considered favorites for the NFC South in 2012!!

Benjamin

March 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

They’d have to be the New Orleans Cheaters for five seasons, Midway?

:)

KC

March 21st, 2012
1:53 pm

Schultz; can someone please note the IT dept about the annoying auto-refresh the blog sites have going on? It’s quiet annoying when you keep getting taken back to the top of the page. Thanks!

Taxi Smith

March 21st, 2012
1:53 pm

Never have liked the Saints. Or New Orleans either; it is a nasty city!

Bourbon Street dancer

March 21st, 2012
1:54 pm

Falcons wont even win 4 games this year. You all have seen what little they have done in the off season.
Resigning an over the hill Abraham? HAHAHAHAHA

Benjamin

March 21st, 2012
1:54 pm

Hahaha @ The Saints fans marching in.

If Brees continues to be pissed with you guys, losing Sean Payton will be the least of your worries.

Go Falcons!

Csonka

March 21st, 2012
1:56 pm

Greg Williams has manboobs.

Jason

March 21st, 2012
1:57 pm

BTW, is Gregg Williams not wearing a bra in that picture?

tennisbrave

March 21st, 2012
1:59 pm

I don’t think the good ole Saints will be doing any more bounty hunting and trying to hurt NFL players. I agree with you Jeff, Goodell got it right this time by sending a strong message.

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:59 pm

Picture caption-Sean”that looked like a $10,000 hit. Hope we don’t get caught. he he.”

Gray Hairs

March 21st, 2012
1:59 pm

Saints Fans…….Defend this, if you can!