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. MazeAndBlue

    A sorry state of affairs by the Saints staff and players. How can the players do this to their fellow friends and team mates and business partners. This is a business where no loyalty exists. I would take the whole team and former teem mates and the entire organization down.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • TriXen

      @MazeAndBlue I guess they didn't teach you how to spell at Michigan, did they?

      April 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gwats

    Upholding the suspensions was the right thing to do. Nicely done, comissioner !

    April 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. patriot 1

    To all of the knuckleheads on this post who seem to think assaulting somebody, even in the guise of a football, won't result in crminal charges, guess again. Do the names Todd Bertuzzi, Tiger Williams, or Marty McSorley ring a bell?

    April 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Yes, because they used weapons, and illegal tactics to injure players for life. Except that they didn't. Football involves contact, and no amount of scrutiny will shake out the difference between a 'bounty' hit and a non-'bounty' hit. You didn't hear about career ending injuries, or insane fines because while they played rough on occasion, so did every other team. a personal wager doesn't turn a foul into a crime no matter how badly you want ti to.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob Lewis

    "Are you not entertained? Is that not why you are here?"

    April 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim

    Imagine being convicted of a crime, and then you appeal and... you get the same jury that convicted you the first time. It doesn't seem like much of an "appeal" when you are judged by the same people that judged you the first time.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • stepper

      Well, the difference here is that we are dealing with football and not the justice system. Their appeals process can be set up however they want.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SkyKing

    Ban the coaches and players who participated for life and strip the Saints of their Super Bown win – a forfeit.
    For those players and coaches who were testing the limits like a pre-schooler or teenager, firmly establish that the limit is a brick wall.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      You must be one of those butt hurt Minnesota fans.

      Was the hit ruled by the league as being particularly viscous at the time it happened?

      How about during the weeks end review?

      Then what about having $10 on it made it dangerous all of a sudden?

      Yes, ban them for life for an office pool. Brilliant.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. FREE MP4/3GP VIDEOS FOR FREE, 4 ADULT ONLY

    definately “embracin the
    opportunity” to help develop and
    implement player safety
    programs.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • TriXen

      Spammer!!!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HerbH

    This is the WRONG all. All fines, and suspensions should be DOUBLED, or TRIPPLED.

    The IDIOT players who paid to participate in this bounty hunting should also be suspended, and fined. (WHY would they pay to fund this 'bonus'? I would have thought the team, and the coaches should have...)

    April 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Why is that, Herbh? Because you have a vested interest in ruining peoples lives? You and many other enraged-for-nothing people seem intent on jailing one teams players and coaches for life, and possible criminal charges because you think someone was trying to end someone's career. Maybe you're angry about the Saints beating your team. You certainly don't have much anger in your heart for the 2007 Packers who did the same thing.

      How convenient for you to barf up what the media has told you like it's your own opinion.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TriXen

    Suspensions aren't enough. Gregg Williams conspired to commit criminal acts and ought to prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for what he did. His bounty program could have permanently maimed or paralyzed any of these young men for life. Thank goodness he was found out before that happened.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      You're an idiot. PLAYING FOOTBALL COULD PARALYZE OR MAIM SOMEONE. IT'S FOOTBALL YOU MORON. You know people running 30 miles an hour and running into each other. You suddenly have an opinion and disgust about it because you see it on CNN, but when ESPN is showing you highlights of it, you couldn't care less. They hit each other. That is the language of football. Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it a crime.

      You wouldn't know a 'bounty' hit from any other, BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL BOUNTY HITS. If they are already hitting each other as hard as they can, what makes you think putting money on it makes the hit more dangerous than it was?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pacman357

    I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, that Goodell did not overturn his own ruling. So what if altering it would have led even more people to ask even more questions challenging his authority.

    BTW, the only way these penalties were ever going to be changed–if at all–will be by a court. The conclusion of this issue is still a long ways off, assuming the Saints and others involved don't decide, as a strategic move, to man up for their misdeeds and simply abide by the penalties. Something tells me they won't. Either way, the conclusion will be quick and mostly forgotten or we are a long ways from hearing the end of this, and little in between now and then will be of any real interest.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WhoDat

    I agree (and Saints agree) that there is no place for a bounty in the NFL. However, it was apparently endemic throughout the league so getting after one out of 32 teams is a tough pill to take. Keep in mind though people that this is a very physical game and the players are already paid handsomely for hitting hard. Taking people out is just part of...

    April 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Frank Pierce

    Garbage. Would be better for those responsible and involved to be forever removed from the sport.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Yes, because tackling hard is criminal.

      You didn't watch the Saints/Minnesota matchup during the 2011 season, where Adrian Peterson was coming back from surgery. First game back. If they had intended to hurt someone, AP was a primed target. Why didn't they rip his leg off? He finished the game, and season. He has the talent to make you regret trying to tackle him by his shoestrings. They had all the reason and apparently malicious intent, but didn't.

      What are the odds the big bad Saints trying to hurt players unlike every other team, is a load of rotten carp?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jacqueline

    Years ago before one of the Olympics....one of the skaters tried to take out her opponent in a similar fashion and I thought she had to go to jail.....why should these coaches receive only a fine? Equal opportunity here!

    April 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Harpman

    These guys should never be allowed to participate in sports events again. Football is dangerous enough without intentionally trying to main and injure a fellow football player. They are dirty bas****s.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Where did you get that they were 'trying to main and injure' other players? I mean, except that you get taught that from High school football and up.

      No one was ever trying to end a career, but it is inferred by the articles description. The Saints did nothing every other team in the league will not be doing next year as well. Hit the opposition as hard as you can. Hope to knock the ball loose. Hope to knock them down and make them want to quit playing football.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. shocked monkey

    Well Jacqueline. Funny you should ask. In the Olympics, there are only a hand full of sports where you hit the opposition. In football it is the primary method of action.

    FWIW:
    Head Coach Sean Payton : suspended for the entire season.
    Linebackers coach Joe Vitt: 6 game suspension
    GM Mickey Loomis: 8 game suspension
    GW (ringleader of 'bounty' program): out for at least this season. Will very likely be coaching again next year.
    2 $500,000.00 fines.
    Loss of TWO draft picks. One this year, one next.
    Player suspensions and fines are pending.

    Only a fine, you say? No.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • rebelyell

      And Payton should be banned for life. Same for the cheap-shot thug players. Here's hoping several players get suspended, and their SuperBowl trophy gets rescinded and the win a forfeit. New Orleans fans have no class, which include you SM.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Yes, rebelyell Ole miss is full of class and dignity. No doubt. I'm at least coming up with my own lyrics, reb. You on the other hand are parroting what you've read and heard on the news. What is classier? Plagiarizim in the form of an opinion, or a legitimate argument no one has yet quelled?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey is a loser

      here's a pool for you to win shocked monkey: $1,000 if you stop crying about the Ain'ts...$1,500 if your silence on the subject is caused by having my dick in your mouth.

      April 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • oceanluvver2

      they will be able to appeal-after all, Vick got a heroes welcome after his short stint for dogfighting. But then, he never got charged with the more serious crime of dog kiling. After all, he can throw a ball, just like he throws dogs to the ground, over and over again. So, let's get ready to welcome them back, they didn't kill any players after all. Such a hypocrit, that Roger Goddell.....

      April 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
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