NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally made his ruling on the Saints Bounty Scandal, handing out a severe punishment. New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton will be suspended for the entire 2012 season.
Goodell also suspended General Manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. The Saints will be fined 500,000 dollars and will relinquish their second-round picks in 2012 and 2013.
Analysts can now debate whether the punishment justifies the means, but under the circumstances, the Saints deserved a harsh punishment. During their run to the Super Bowl title in 2009, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams handed out cash rewards for injuring opposing players. In particular, the Saints' defense went after opposing quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.
Williams is most at fault, which explains why his suspension is indefinite, but being that Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis knew of the bounty program, they are at fault for not putting a stop to it.
In today’s NFL where a new awareness for concussions and prevention of injuries exists, Goodell had no choice but to come down hard on the Saints. Even if other teams or defensive players around the league try their best to ‘hurt’ the players they hit, Goodell would be contradicting himself if he fines James Harrison for a helmet-to-helmet hit, but turns his head on a program that encourages ending careers.
Despite the necessity for a harsh punishment, fans will probably compare this punishment and the one given to the New England Patriots back in 2007. So far, they have been Roger Goodell’s biggest decisions as commissioner and could be seen as two of the darkest moments in NFL history. Two teams, each won Super Bowls, one multiple times, did not win them in the right fashion.
In 2007, Goodell did come down hard on the Patriots, giving out fines of 500,000 dollars to Head Coach Bill Belichick, the maximum fine that could be given, and 250,000 dollar to the franchise. The Patriots also lost a first-round draft pick, but Goodell gave them no suspension. Imagine what New England’s season would have been if Belichick could not have coached the whole year. Would they have gone 16-0? Would they have made it to the Super Bowl?
Obviously, both crimes are not the same, and do not deserve the same punishment, and certainly trying to injury a player to the point where they cannot play anymore is worse than looking at another team’s playbook, but the NFL’s latest safety rules probably forced Goodell to come down a bit too hard on the Sean Payton.