Following the New Orleans Saints win in Super Bowl XLIV, NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell handed the Lombardi Trophy off to a clearly victorious Sean Payton. On Wednesday, Goodell handed down a very different fate to the Saints' head man.
Payton and the Saints, who were recently accused of placing bounties on opposing teams players, were finally dealt their penalty for the alleged actions on Wednesday. On the same day that Tim Tebow's departure and subsequent return to the Denver Broncos dominated headlines, the Saints received their own set of bad news.
Payton clearly received the bigger brunt of the penalty, as he was suspended for the entire 2012 football season. But some other Saints personnel, including GM Mickey Loomis (eight games) and assistant coach Joe Vitt (six games), received hefty punishments. Meanwhile former Saints and recently signed St. Louis defensive coordinator Gregg Williams received the worst of all with an indefinite suspension.
As for the team, the Saints have been docked $500,000 and stripped of their second-round picks in both the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts.
The sanctions appear to be pretty steep for a Saints' franchise that is just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl title and, prior to these penalties, were widely considered a heavy favorite to take home this year's crown. Goodell clearly took the Saints' "pay for pain" program very seriously and wanted to make a statement about not only the unruly actions but in regards to player safety as well.
The Saints' actions were clearly very serious, especially considering the onus on player safety, but was the punishment for such actions too harsh?