Goodell Drops Hammer On Saints’ ‘Bountygate’ Ruling

The NFL commissioner's penalties are severe, and the NFL may not be done yet.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has made a reputation for himself as the cop, judge, and jury when it comes to the NFL's policies on player and team conduct. Well, now he can add executioner to that list.

The NFL has handed down it's ruling on the New Orleans Saints coaches involved in the bountygate scandal from 2009-2011, suspending three coaches, a GM, taking away draft picks and fining all involved.

The Saints franchise has been fined $500,000 dollars and will lose their 2012, and 2013 second round draft picks.  GM Mickey Loomis has been suspended without pay for the first eight games of the regular season.  And assistant coach Joe Vitt has been suspended for the first six games of the 2012 regular season.

The big hits though are against head coach Sean Payton and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Payton has been suspended without pay for the 2012 season, a suspension that will cost him between seven and eight million dollars.  Williams, who is currently the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, has been suspended indefinitely and will meet with Goodell at the conclusion of the 2012 season to determine his eligibility for 2013.

All of the suspensions could have been smaller if the NFL didn't discover false denials by all parties involved.  Each coach, including Sean Payton, had said during a 2010 investigation that they had no knowledge of bounties being placed on opposing players.  It has been reported that Joe Vitt's exclusive responsibility was to monitor the activities of Williams, but he never reported anything back to Payton despite seeing Williams handing out envelopes to players that Vitt believed to contain payouts. 

Mickey Loomis' suspension is based on his inability to keep the situation under control.  When Loomis was informed by the NFL that the Saints were under investigation in 2010 and again in 2012, he notified coach Payton of the investigations and asked him to put an end to any bounty program, but never insured that such a program had been terminated.  Both Payton and Williams were found to have misled NFL investigators during the 2010 investigation before evidence was found in 2012 that both had extensive knowledge of a bounty program.

Punishments have not yet been announced for players involved, but it is believed that middle linebacker Johnathan Vilma will receive the largest punishment among the players involved due in large part to his captaincy of the Saints defense.  It is still unknown if any violations have been found from coach Williams' term with the Washington Redskins.

Neither the Saints nor the Rams have yet announced who will replace their suspended coaches this season.