The NFL handed out some of the stiffest penalties in league history today, punishing two current employees and one former employee of the New Orleans Saints. Were the penalties fair (I will react to each one below)? For the most part, they were, but I wished they had been a little stiffer.
New Orleans Saints – The NFL franchise was fined the league maximum of $500,000. The team will also lose two second-round draft picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts. Roger Goodell and the NFL hit the nail on the head on this one. While all accounts point to the fact team owner Tom Benson had demanded that the team’s general manager, Mickey Loomis, end the bounty program, the NFL had to send a strong message, not only to the Saints but every single NFL team ownership group. I don’t think it helped Benson that he came out a couple of weeks ago in full support of Payton and Loomis. It was as if he was mocking the NFL.
Keep in mind that the New England Patriots were fined $750,000 ($250,000 for the team and $500,000 for Bill Belichick alone) for their Spygate fiasco and lost only one (first-round) draft pick. So this penalty sends a strong message to every owner that the punishment for breaking NFL rules will be strong!
The second part to the Saints penalty also sends a strong message to the Saints and other NFL teams. NFL teams covet second-round picks. Taking away two second-round draft picks will hurt the Saints and it will be a setback in their future building efforts.
New Orleans Head Coach, Sean Payton – Sean Payton was aware of the program and did nothing to stop it. He knowingly sent his players on to the field to hurt his team’s opponents. That is disgusting and unacceptable. Sean Payton will have an entire NFL year to think about what a goon he was. Maybe he can learn from his mistakes and his dangerous behavior.
New Orleans General Manager (GM), Mickey Loomis – Loomis received an eight-game suspension from the NFL. That’s not tough enough. This guy runs the team as if it were the mafia. He broke NFL rules regarding player safety and the salary cap. He not only knew about the bounty program but was directed by his team’s owner to stop it.
Since Loomis is the GM, he should have received a lifetime ban form the NFL. I don’t believe that the NFL should tolerate any team’s senior management who break NFL rules and manage a program where their teams attempt to seriously injure opposing players. I’m surprised that Benson didn’t fire Loomis.
Former Saints Defensive Coordinator (Currently with the Rams), Gregg Williams – Williams was banned indefinitely by Goodlell. While I believe a lifetime ban was appropriate, an indefinite suspension will suffice, since the Rams will have to replace him. So he’s out of a job and will have difficulty finding a new one, if and when the NFL allows him to return to the game.
Why am I so tough on Williams? Williams was the mastermind of the bounty program. It was his idea and he went behind everyone’s back to make it work. Williams did come forward after the NFL started to investigate the scandal, but it is alleged that he initially denied the allegations. For this reason, along with the result of the NFL’s investigation, Williams needs to receive the ultimate punishment. That will send a message to every coach in the NFL: If you know of a program like this being operated by your team, you need to do everything in your power to stop it. Even if that means that you have to inform the league.
For the most part, the NFL got it right. While I do wish that the league was a little tougher with a couple of the penalties, there’s no doubt that the NFL came down really hard against the parties in this case. This will be a hard pill to swallow for the Saints and they will have to work hard to repair their reputation
The NFL didn’t hand out any player penalties at this time, since they are working with the NFLPA and its investigation into the matter. Players who took part in the bounty program should be scared as they now know that harsh penalties will soon be coming their way.