Saints head coach Sean Payton got suspended for a year, and former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who recently took the same job with the Rams, received an indefinite ban with the minimum punishment of one year. Williams was labeled as the bounty system's ringleader.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt got six games. The Saints were also fined $500,000 and lost their second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, and it's believed that sanctions against players are coming next. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma will likely get hit the hardest, as the league's investigation determined he offered $10,000 for any hit that knocked Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship.
The discipline stemmed from the bounty system, but commissioner Roger Goodell was stiffer with his sanctions after he deemed the Saints lied about their involvement. And now, the rest of the league is on notice that neither action has any place in the game.
The general reaction across the NFL appears to be one of relief. Players take it very seriously when they believe they're being targeted, especially with hits that could have long-term implications, which result in shortened careers and lesser contracts. While bounty systems could very well be more widespread than anyone realizes, they clearly aren't popular with many players, most of which are on offense.
And now, Goodell's sanctions have taken one of the best head coaches out of the game for a full season, which essentially dooms the Saints' chances to win a second Super Bowl in 2012. Since quarterback Drew Brees isn't exactly stuck in a time capsule, it shrinks his window of building upon his playoff legacy.
The Saints have been one of the NFL's most popular teams in recent years due to their rise to prominence after Hurricane Katrina, and their success lent hope to a struggling market in New Orleans. But now, the Saints have a really difficult battle to get back to the top of the totem pole.
While Goodell's ruling came down with a more rigorous fist than most expected, it still feels like a just action. This should now do away with bounty systems to a much greater degree, if it doesn't eliminate them entirely.
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