The NFL suspended Sean Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints, for the entire 2012 season today for his role in a bounty scandal.
A league investigation determined the team’s defensive coordinator Gregg Williams plotted a cash-for-casualty program that paid players extra money for “knock-outs” and “cart-offs” of opponents, the league said in a news release.
“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in the release. “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 NFL also suspended Williams, who left New Orleans to become defensive coordinator in St. Louis, indefinitely. He must meet with Goddell after the 2012 season to determine if – and under what conditions – he can return to coaching.
The NFL also fined the team $500,000, suspended general manager Mickey Loomis for 8 games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for 6 games.
All of the suspensions are without pay, which means Payton must forfeit more than $7 million in salary.
The allegations stretch over 3 seasons beginning in 2009, when the Saints won the Super Bowl.
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The bounty program included targets on superstar quarterbacks Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and – most recently – Aaron Rodgers, The New York Times reported.
The Times obtained an email to Payton that read, “PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers.”
The email was allegedly sent to Payton by Mike Ornstein, a long-time NFL executive and convicted felon, before the Saints and Green Bay Packers opened the 2011 season.
Williams issued an apology through his new team, NFL.com reported.
“It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it,” the statement read. “Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”
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