The NFL’s league commissioner; Roger Goodell has issued some hefty punishments to the New Orleans Saints for their “bounty system” of targeting players to injure.
Goodell has suspended head coach Seán Payton without pay for the entire 2012 season; former Saints and current St Louis Rams defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely; Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight games of the season and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for the first six games.
The Saints were also fined US$500,000 (€380,000) and stripped of their second round draft picks for this year and next. The punishments come in the wake of revelations that Saints players supplied their own cash, contributing to a pool where it was paid out to reward hits on opponents. Defensive players were paid US$1,500 for “knockouts” and US$1,000 for “cart-offs,” as they targeted opposition stars. The rewards doubled during the play-offs and reached as high as US$50,000 during their Super Bowl winning 2009 season.
The stiff sanctions come as the NFL seeks to stamp out the view that the league does not do enough to protect its players with 39 lawsuits from 850 former players claiming the NFL failed in their duty of care towards players who suffered frequent concussions and thereby had an inferior quality of life as a direct consequence in later life.