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. Me

    The whole thing is childish. What next? Are we going to be angry at boxers who punch each other in the face? It is what they are being payed to do.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommyBoy

      Um, Me, are you a moron? Different sports, different rule set. If a boxer is holding a roll of dimes in his fist, yes, he will face punishment and likely banned from boxing. NFL players rae not paid to injure another player. Stupid comparison, but you might just be un-educated. -TB

      April 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vince

      Get a clue. The NFL is facing multiple law suits from former ex players. It's very naive to think that things like this can continue in the NFL.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big George in Big D

      You're a moron! These players are NOT supposed to be paying each other to intentially maim someone. Guess you're just a fat couch potato that never played sports.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      Hey there TommyBoy, could you share with the rest of the class? What weapon did the Saints use? The same weapon the other team uses? Why, that's criminal!

      April 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Furious Styles

      Bounties in the NFL are illegal PERIOD.That's not football and any REAL fans who pay GOOD money for tickets agree. Keep the thuggery in the streets and off the football field.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      Are you kidding? Did you actually see what they did to Brett Favre during their Superbowl "win"? People should have gone to jail.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      @Big George in Big D, who did they maim? 3 years of trying, but they just couldn't manage it? The premise of ending careers is great if you need to embellish a story, but not so much if you have to provide a speck of proof to support it.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      @Get Real. Two things. Minnesota didn't go to the SuperBowl, it was the NFC Championship game. Secondly, Bret Favre went on record to say the hits were not illegal, and left the game on his own two feet, after throwing the game losing interception. Kurt Warner did the same thing.

      If the hits had been illegal, fines would have been levied. The league already has a watchdog staff to find and fine for these hits. You know more about what happened to Bret Favre, THAN Bret Favre AND the league? U R Amazing!

      April 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff


      April 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      @Furious Styles.

      You realize how ridiculous your statement is, right? Keep the hitting on the field, not the streets. Where do you think it happened? You are aware of what this story is about, right? They didn't go to a bar and start a fight. They hit each other....just like they get paid millions of dollars to do, every week. Not sure what thuggery you think you're referring to, as you conveniently left out the rest of the league.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      If a boxer pulled a gun in the ring and shot his opponent he would face charges. All of the people involved with this should be prosecuted as common criminals.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Degrin

      Thats odd, considering Football rules prevent players from using techniques that are especially dangerous. Looks like the rules of the game imply that inflicting injury is NOT the point of the game. Not sure where you are getting your information from.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Spock500

    Who dat now?

    April 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John Smyth

    And NOTHING is endowed or given to the NFL Medical Foundation.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Raoul

    This is disgusting, injure a player, ruin his career, maybe give him permanent injuries. The only sport where you are allowed to deliberately injure is boxing, it permissible assault and even it has its well-defined rules. You can block, pound and tackle all you want in football and injuries are part of the game, but where it is intentional injury it is not football, it is battery. Brain damage and wheelchair injury in the case of football.

    It will always appeal because it is difficult to prove because it goes to intent. And it wins games. Take a tip from the law, in the few cases when you can prove intent HANG A FEW FROM THE LAMPOSTS. Penalties my rear end, this should be career-ending for a coach, long suspension for a player and you-don't-go-to-the-playoffs-this-year for a team. Maybe let the DA have a crack at the coach too.

    No it won't sissyfy the game, this is reserved for where you can show overt encouragement for winning through injury, not just winks and nods.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SuperDave

      You must be kidding. Liike football is not violent. Like "bounties", by any other name, have not been happening for decades. Like players can actually target certain body parts at the speed the games is played. You are stupid to think that. And, no one was even penalized, yet thrown out of a game, for any illegal hits. There is no story here, and no reason to suspend anyone.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      What permanent injury did they cause? Whose career did they end? Oh, no ones. That's odd. 3 years of trying, 48 + games and they just couldn't end anyone's career. Could it be the 'end players career' part is made up, or is it more likely they're just not very good at ending careers?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alaska

    Sean Payton is a loser just like Bill Billacheck, he should be fired indefinately.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zack

    Ridiculous rulings. The Saints have had one of the WORST defenses in the NFL the past 3 years. They won their games because of offense, not defense. Did the Saints actually end up hurting anybody? In the Superbowl, they never even got to Peyton Manning.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shawn

    I think they all should be BANNED from football, Pete Rose was banned for betting on his team, something he did to benefit himself, these guys were out to hurt other players possibly on a permenant basis, get rid of them and cut all benefits for them.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Zack

    The Saints have had one of the WORST defenses in the NFL the past 3 years. The won their games because of offense, not defense. Did the Saints actually end up hurting anybody? In the Superbowl, they never even got to Peyton Manning

    April 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave836

      Ya, well every team in the NFL does this (or at least did). NFL is just setting an example with the Saints because they were the only guys dumb enough to put their bounty program in writing...

      April 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. andre himes

    much of the black human population had already been wipout during the black holocaust 1968-1993

    April 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Norm

    The NFL didn't step back from the decisions, the Saints deserved what they got. Williams is permanently out of the NFL, what a gross coaching philosophy, no loss to the NFL to have him gone.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob

      Agreed. What a sick man. Football is rough, no doubt. But this went so far over the line, it's just crazy...

      April 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. drahser

    Does anyone else see an issue with Roger Goddell deciding whether his own ruling was fair or not?

    April 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    Just because they sucked at injuring people and/or ending careers, that doesn't mean they didn't break the rules. The rules say no bounties even for things like interceptions and fumbles.

    The iron fist didn't come down because they were paying out bounties. They got the iron fist treatment because they continued to do it for two years after they had been told to stop. So not only are they not good at injuring people, they also aren't very good at knowing when to quit.

    I think they deserve the punishment for breaking the rules and for being to stupid to quit when given the chance.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      They broke the monetary rules. Show me a hit where a Saints defender was trying to hurt another player? You can't because they are ALL hits trying to hurt the other players. ALL TEAMS, ALL THE TIME. To regurgitate anything else is selective interpretation. You think they were trying to end players careers because you want to think they were trying to end other players careers, not because there is any evidence of it, that it happened, or anyone said it. The media said "bounty' and let the readers decide what that meant, and people like you spread it like it's truth or fact. It's not, so put all your venomous rage about the evil Saints defense back in your drawer and wait until it's time to pull it out.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Bob

    Gregg Williams should, indeed, be banned forever. And put in jail. Football is a rough game, and people get hurt and potentially maimed permanently, or killed. But to deliberately cause major injuries, that needs to go away...

    April 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lewy

    Players, coaches, owners: Thugs; all.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      You could always just ignore the article and go watch your ballet. Not like you have any idea what any of this is about, so there's no reason to pretend.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cajr

    its about time the saints are getting some overdue punishment. payton has been an arrogant knucklehead for years, and i believe he felt he was above the rules.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Armenian

      Poor baby! You got a kleenex to wipe those tears away?

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