Sean Payton Suspended

March 21, 2012 by staff 

Sean Payton Suspended, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year and the team will lose its second round pick in 2012 and ’13 and pay $500,000 as a result of the NFL’s bounty investigation, the league announced Wednesday.

Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who orchestrated the program, has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis also faces an eight-game suspension and a $500,000 fine.

The NFL revealed in early March an investigation which found more than 20 defensive players for the Saints participated in a ‘bounty’ system from 2009 to ’11 which rewarded individuals with cash for harming opposing players.

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. “We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.”

The league found that the cash pool reached $50,000 or more during the 2009 playoffs, and players were paid $1,500 for a “knockout” and $1,000 for a “cart-off” with payouts doubling or tripling during the playoffs. Money was provided primarily by players.

All such payments violate league rules for non-contract bonuses.

Williams administered the program, and the NFL says Payton was not a direct participant, yet was aware of the allegations and “failed to stop the bounty program.” Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt is also suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2012 season.

“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” Goodell continued. “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.”

Payton and Loomis took “full responsibility” for the violations in a joint statement issued days after the findings, and later met with Goodell in New York to discuss the issue.

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