NFL denies Saints appeal of bounty program suspensions
Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talks with players during Super Bowl XLIV.
April 9th, 2012
01:17 PM ET

NFL denies Saints appeal of bounty program suspensions

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld his decision to suspend members of the New Orleans Saints coaching staff over the team's bounty program, but left open the possibility for reductions in fines if they "embrace the opportunity" to help develop and implement player safety programs.

The NFL announced last month that they suspended former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely and Saints head coach Sean Payton for one year because of the team's bounty program.

The Saints also will be fined $500,000 and will forfeit their second-round selections in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts, the league said. In addition, the league is suspending Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season, and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt for the first six regular-season games, the NFL said in a statement.

“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the statement when he announced the initial suspensions. “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.”

The NFL reported this year that the Saints paid defensive players a bounty for injuring opponents as well as making interceptions and fumble recoveries during the 2009-2011 seasons. The program involved as many as 27 players and at least one assistant coach, the league concluded following an investigation.

The league said the program was administered by then-defensive coordinator Williams – who now holds the same position with the St. Louis Rams – with the knowledge of other coaches. Players regularly contributed cash to a pool, which may have topped $50,000 at its peak.

The players were paid $1,500 for a "knockout," when an opposing player was not able to return to the game, and $1,000 for a "cart-off," when an opposing player had to be carried off the field. In some cases, particular players on the opposing team were targeted, the NFL said.

After the program was reported on, Payton and Loomis said they took "full responsibility" for the practice, which they said "happened under our watch."

Read more:

Players react with disgust to Gregg Williams ordering Saints to target 49ers' heads, knees

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Filed under: Football • Sports
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. bahamaben

    Why are they not being investigated for Conspiracy? They conspired to inflict bodily harm on the other players for pay. It is important to note that an actual crime is not necessary to prosecute a conspiracy case – only the stated intent to break the law. Throw the bums in prison.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Armenian

      Yep! Let's get ALL the NFL'rs who participated in a "performance bonus" into jail! You wimp!

      April 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Because inflicting bodily harm is in the contract they signed as a rookie. In fact some teams pay very high dollar for players that are good at delivering painful hits. The conspiracy you seek is in why this ever became public knowledge in the first place. Goodell knew this was happening in 2007 with the Green Bay Packers, but there is no outcry about them because they 'stopped'. Everyone angry at the Saints now, forgets this isn't the first time a team has done this. Goodell made this public to shine light on his player protection policy, in light of being sued by retired players for NOT having a player protection policy. Don't let the talking heads lead you astray.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cajr

    is it me or does williams look like ron white? go tater salad!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      It's just you.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tim

    Anyone who signed a free agent contract with the Saints this off-season before this all came out should be given the option to nullify their new contract and re-enter free agency. This is none of their doing and they shouldn't be punished for it when they thought they were signing with a contender.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Armenian

      Hey Tim: pheque!

      April 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      The same offer should be made to your offspring.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. neverland911

    No matter. The Saint's will rise above this fiasco. I BELIEVE!!!!!! WHO DAT!!!!!!!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      who dat is the worst slogan of any team....that's saying a lot

      April 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Armenian

      Hoo Dat! HOO DAT NATION! Bayou Black their A$$!

      April 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David M

    They should all be banned from football. Suspension is not enough. The fact that they encouraged, and paid, players to injure other players is inexcusable. I hope the Saints go back to being the "Aints" for years to come. You don't deserve to be in the NFL.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      They get paid to hit each other. You are aware how the game is played, yes? You are aware the hits are not supposed to tickle, yes? You are aware you have little time to adjust, much less intentionally hurt someone, yes?

      Next, show me the play in which they tried to hurt someone. Oh, wait, that's all of them. Every player ever is trying to hurt the other teams players. No one was EVER trying to permanently hurt someone, that was injected by the media, and carried by all the angry people who read it. Like a high school girl with a gossip complex, you are spreading the notion of intent to maim like it was fact.

      It's easy to be mad when you think you have all the facts, but in reality, you are missing the bigger picture of why this story broke at all. Goodell being sued. You aren't angry at the 2007 Green Bay Packers for the same thing. Maybe because they didn't call it 'bounty'. If they had called it a 'Charmin' program would you be as angry?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Armenian

    ALL NFL teams have a bounty. No suspensions or rules are going to stop that THIS season. Grow a set! This is a MANs game.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WhoDat

    Im sorry, but for all you whining about how the Saints played dirty...you wouldn't be talking about it if it were your team on the stand! Sorry Brett's and Kurt's O-Line couldn't protect him well enough! WhoDat for life!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rd

    this regime is done. if you have to cheat to win u are shorterm.....term over

    April 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Armenian

      How in the world you pansies ever call tackling an opponent in FOOTBALL with FORCE as cheating..... well you must be Democrats or something. The Saints ain't gonna let this little thing ruin the sport. As with ALL NFL teams, bounties will continue.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jay

    Cajr, have you ever played organized football on any level? And if you did, you probably played when the loser still gets a trophy. This sport is a business and coaches have become managers of the players. After hearing the audio I have 2 things to say. 1. I don't think you need to take his words literally and 2. If was a good motivational speech to get his players ready. If you or anybody else thinks this does not happen anywhere else or with any other sport you are just a idiot.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chris h

    if they would have won their appeal on the bounty program, i would have to throw the bs flag on that one. This kind of behavior in such a prestigious sport should not be tolerated. in fact, i think their penalties should be more harsh, so the NFL can prove a point. There is zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      What kind of behavior, pray tell? The behavior where they run full speed into each other, then try to bury them in the turf? Oh, like EVERY PLAY EVER?

      April 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Armenian

      "This kind of behavior..." What kind of PC talk is that, you pu$$ie? It's the pheqing gridiron! It involves a real mans sport of kick a$$. Take that girly talk and look around the bench and see if you have any WOMEN on the field! No? Wonder why? Cause you have to be TOUGH and you have to TAKE IT! None of the warriors who went down to the Saints' punishment whined about it. They just stepped aside with their wounds. The field is where the battles are fought. Performance bonuses will reign as long as there is a superbowl ring to win. May the best man win.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WhoDat

    Saints will just dominate next season without a coach and shove it down Goodells throat again! All about scrappy football.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Armenian

    The Saints that play this year will just play to give pain. No bounty required. It's just gonna be to give the pain out! Look out.... now it's above the money... it's about the pain. Here comes the Bayou Black on y'alls a$$!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • talbet

      They'll win 5 games tops.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rams fan since 74

    Half of you have no clue what football is about and your comments reflect it. As I have no clue about Wall street and water cooler babble. We've become a nation of whiners and crybabies. Thank Jeremy Shockey for all of this because he was cut and no team wants him. So he goes public on a internal matter that would of been handled quietly. Football is brutal and the players know the stakes and get paid very well. I can guarantee if football switched from tackle to flag football you would see it become as popular as Polo.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LouAz

    Why all the hand-wringing, and shame on you stuff ? The NHL has done this for YEARS and it is encouraged !
    It is also why I wouldn't walk across the street to see ANY NHL game.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cleareye1

    This is a simple case of cheating. Much like using drugs or throwing games. All of the people involved should be banned for life immediately. Then the criminal authorities should bring charges.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • neverland911

      Time to play with you paper dolls now.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connaise

      Hey Cleareye1, do you really believe each and every other NFL team hasn't been doing the same? You are very naive if you do. And do you think it will stop? Think again. This bounty is funded by the fans and it ain't goin away!

      April 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      @cleareye1

      Really? This should be good. How did they cheat? Was it like when New England cheated? Do you know why you're angry, or are you just lashing out because you're confused by it all?

      April 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigezn8tv

      Are you serious? Banned for life? Please. This isn't golf or tennis. Every team does this. Football is a violent sport. In high school, they gave us stickers for our helmets if you knocked the crap out of someone. What do you think all of those stickers are on college defensive football helmets? To see who hits the softest.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • John D

      I doubt criminal charges would stick.

      When you engage in a contact sport, you're deemed to consent to all contact that's "part of the game," whether or not it actually falls within the rules.
      Since there's always a risk of injury in football, and players are routinely coached to hit as hard as they can... I doubt what happened falls so far out of line as to deprive the perps of the defence of consent.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      Connaise I agree that teams will and have been doing it but I think a message needs to be sent that it is unacceptable to purposely injure players. With a bounty system a text book tackle becomes a shot at the knees, head or otherwise. Football is a brutal game but it is not a forum to purposely mame players. They should be banned for life.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
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