When the news broke that the NFL came down severely upon the New Orleans Saints organization this week regarding the team's involvement in paying "bounties" for hits that get opposing players out of the game, it was a big deal. Head coach Sean Payton will not coach this year and will not be paid. Gregg Williams, now the St, Louis Rams defensive coordinator, will not coach in the league for at least a year, but the suspension is indefinite.
The Saints also lose a draft pick this year and next year and their general manager was suspended as well.
The debate has been whether or not the punishment was too severe.
We put that question to our writer roundtable.
The suspensions are in for Bountygate and Saints head coach Sean Payton is out for a year without pay, Rams DC Gregg Williams is out for at least a year and the Saints lose a draft pick this year and next. Was this fair/appropriate?
Had the Saints merely run their bounty system, they would have indeed been punished, but nothing close to the degree that was handed down by Roger Goodell on Wednesday. The reason they got such a severe penalty was for lying directly to Goodell and the NFL investigators, and for that I feel the punishment was spot on. By giving such a harsh penalty, the NFL is letting everyone know that bounties will not be tolerated, but more importantly, do not deceive the league. After Wednesday, the 32 franchises can say in unison, "message received."
Shocking that Roger Goodell threw the book at these guys! But this is what happens when you are told by the big boss to stop doing something and you don't. In my world, I'd get fired for such conduct and disregard of the rules, so Sean Payton and Gregg Williams, welcome to the real world.
I think the punishment is fair given how brutal some injuries have become in the NFL. However, I'm shocked that Roger Goodell decided to go this far. Suspending Payton makes sense, but a year seems like an awfully long time. Sure, Payton had to know what was going on, but (as far as we know) he didn't instigate the bounty system. His only crime was turning a blind eye to it, and while he deserves to be punished for that, an entire year away from the game seems to be a harsh response for his involvement (or lack thereof).
I keep changing my mind. I know the payout systems have been in place for a long time. But Williams allegedly organized these so much more than the common thing. And in the end, the premise is that you are trying to take someone's livelihood from them. That is classless. Roger Goodell had to drop the hammer. It was a message that had to be made. You simply cannot condone asking guys to try and take out other guys. It's got to be played cleanly.