On Wednesday the NFL suspended New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton for one year and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams “indefinitely” for their roles in the team’s “bounty program.” General manager Mickey Loomis was also suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 NFL season, assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended for the first six games of next season, and the team will lose its second-round pick in 2012 and its second-round pick in 2013. Below are four key takeaways from this scandal.
Goodell was harsh because he was lied to.
Remember back in 2007 when Roger Goodell threw the book at Michael Vick after the quarterback pled guilty to federal dog fighting charges? Part of the reason why Goodell was so harsh was because Vick admitted that he provided most of the money for the gambling side of the “Bid Newz Kennels” operation. But Goodell also dropped the hammer on Vick because the quarterback lied to his face about being involved with the scandal. The same thing happened with the Saints. Head coach Sean Payton lied to Goodell, Gregg Williams lied to Goodell, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt lied to Goodell. If the commish has taught us anything since he assumed office on September 1 of 2006 it’s that the NFL his league and he will go to extreme measures to protect its integrity. I fully admit that I was surprised by the rulings but once the league had enough evidence to convict the Saints of wrongdoing, you figured Goodell was going to rule with an iron fist. And I think it’s telling that Payton’s suspension doesn’t begin until April 1 when all NFL coaches have to attend a meeting on Monday for a coaches’ breakfast with the media. Think Goodell wants to send a message to Payton by having the suspended coach have to face the media that day?
Here’s the difference between the “bounty program” and “Spygate.
Five years ago the Patriots were found to have been videotaping the signals of opposing teams. Goodell fined Bill Belichick $500,000, fined the club $250,000, took away the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2008, and then had all of the documents from the scandal destroyed. As we came to find out, Belichick had been taping opponents’ signals since his days as a head coach in Cleveland and the “only” punishment New England received was essentially the loss of $750,000 and a first-round pick. So why did Goodell come down harder on the Saints than he did on the Patriots? Well, there are a couple of reasons. One, Goodell had just taken over as commissioner of the league when he doled out the punishment for the Patriots so he was still green at that point. It’s also widely known that he and Bob Kraft are very tight, so he wasn’t going to stick it to his buddy. But the biggest difference between the two, at least in my eyes, is that “Spygate” didn’t cost the league a dime. For the past three years Goodell has tried to make the NFL a safer game. And with more and more lawsuits emerging from former players, he has to be able to walk into a courtroom and say, ‘Hey, we’ve done everything we could to make our game safe.’ That message is awfully hard to convey when one of your coaches has a program in place to reward his players for taking out certain opponents. Not only did this bounty program scandal tarnish the league’s reputation and integrity, but it also had the potential to hit the NFL’s wallet down the line…repeatedly. And Goodell simply can’t have that.
This is only the first wave of punishment.
If you’re wondering why none of the Saints players have been suspended but their coaches and general manger did, just wait. This is more than likely just the first wave of punishments that Goodell will hand out. As the reported leader of the bounty program, Jonathan Vilma will probably receive a stiff punishment and you have to believe others will face discipline as well. It wasn’t just Vilma carrying out Williams’ “orders.”
Don’t make Shockey out to be “Deep Throat.”
As ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas points out, the NFL started investigating the Saints when they tried to take Brett Favre’s head off during the NFC title game in 2009. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, whom Warren Sapp said “snitched” to the league about the program, was playing for the Saints at the time. While Shockey may have ultimately told the NFL what he knew about the bounty program, he isn’t the reason the Saints eventually were investigated. Thus, there was no “snitch” here and for what it’s worth, Shockey has denied Sapp’s claims on his Twitter page.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: Gregg Williams suspension, Jeremy Shockey, Jeremy Shockey snich, Joe Vitt, Jonathan Vilma, Jonathan Vilma suspension, Michael Vick, Michael Vick suspension, Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints, Roger Goodell, Saints bounty program, Saints bounty program punishment, Sean Payton, Sean Payton suspeision