The NFL officially issued the penalty for the New Orleans Saints for running an illegal bounty system, according to Fox Sports.
Several members of the Saints organization were chastised for “their participation or connection with the bounty system that was run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011.
Williams was indefinitely suspended. Head coach Sean Payton is suspended from the 2012 season. General manager Mickey Loomis will have to sit out for the first eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for the first six games.
On top of the suspensions, the Saints were fined $500,000 and no longer have their second-round draft choices in the 2012 and 2013 drafts.
The quarterback of the Saints Drew Brees tweeted “I am speechless. Sean Payton is a great man, coach and mentor. The best there is. I need to hear an explanation for this punishment.”
The NFL believes that Payton and Loomis were aware of the bounty system but did not make attempts to stop it.
The investigation began in March and uncovered Saints players and other members in the franchise adding to a bounty poll that reached up to $50,000.
Players received $1,500 for “knockout” hits and $1,000 for “cart-offs, which Fox Sports describes as “an injured opponent being taken off the field on a medical cart.” It is believed that these amounts doubled or tripled during postseason.
NFL commissioner Goodell said,
“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game. This type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.”
The Saints, and members suspended, have the opportunity to appeal the NFL’s decision.