The NFL Comes Down Hard on the New Orleans Saints and Head Coach Sean Payton
The gavel fell, and it fell hard Wednesday as the NFL ruled against the New Orleans Saints for their development and participation in a bounty system designed to pay players for targeting and injuring their opponents. In a decision felt from New Orleans to St Louis the NFL has suspended Saint’s Head Coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season and the Ram’s new defensive coordinator Greg Williams indefinitely. Williams has been deemed the mastermind behind the program that was put in place under his direction while he served as the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator under Payton. The bounty system reportedly began in 2009 during the Saints run to the Super Bowl. A championship that will forever be marred by the scar left on the New Orleans Saint’s organization. Roger Goddell and the NFL are not playing around when it comes to the safety of its players and he made that very clear Wednesday.
This was a decision that shocked the Saints. The team was thinking there would be suspensions of the coaching staff, but to lose their leader, Sean Payton, for the entire season? No way. Way, and a whole lot more. General Manager of the New Orleans Saints, Mickey Loomis, will sit out the first six games of the season, and Saints Assistant Head Coach and defensive coordinator Joe Vitt will be gone for the first half of the season, suspended for eight games. The league has yet to rule on the suspensions and fines towards the twenty or so players alleged to have participated in the bounty system. Those rulings are expected to be made in the next few weeks. Look for Jonathan Vilma and Darren Sharper to be two of those players fined and or suspended as their names appear in the documents released by the NFL March 2, and again today.
The Saints must also forfeit their second round draft choices in 2012 and 2013, leaving them out of this years draft until the third round. The Saints have traded away their first round pick in this year’s draft. The decision leaves the New Orleans Saints organization reeling with no Head Coach for the draft, and then no General Manager to deal with the impending contract of Drew Brees. With all this going down, Brees may want to sniff the free agent market a little more now. Loomis will begin serving his suspension at the beginning of the season, while Peyton will stop receiving pay checks April 1st.
Where do the Saints go from here? First, decide whether or not you are going to stick with Sean Payton as your head man. Although that might sound preposterous, New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson has to ask the question. If Payton is his man, then a plan has to be implemented to get a tremendously talented football team through an unprecedented situation. The Saints brought in Steve Spagnoulo to serve as the defensive coordinator replacing the departed Williams. He and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael are the two logical choices to fill in for Payton this year with Carmichael probably better suited for the job since he has experience running Payton’s high-powered offense. General Managers consider the regular season their offseason, so maybe the Saints can live without the services of Loomis for now but next spring and summer could be a nightmare in the front office. New Orleans must prepare to play some or all of the 2012 season without several on their defensive unit who seem destined to the couch for an extended period of time when Goddell and the NFL announce their fate.
Is this the NFL’s version of the death penalty? We shall soon see. As this team, franchise and it’s fans try to cope with the reality that just hit them square in the face. The New Orleans Saints will be remembered for many reasons in NFL history, but this bounty system could be a scarlet letter the Saints will wear forever.
- NFL Exposes Saints Bounty System – Heavy Fines, Suspensions, Sanctions (rattleandhumsports.com)