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Some thoughts on Goodell's bounty discipline

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  March 21, 2012 04:16 PM

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News of the bounty scandal penalties broke while the Boston College pro day was going on, so we've now had a chance to digest them. A few thoughts on the discipline that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down:


  • The penalties were, in a word, unprecedented. Never had an NFL coach been suspended for so much as as a game, and Saints coach Sean Payton was barred for an entire season without pay. Then you have Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Saints assistant Joe Vitt, and general manager Mickey Loomis all drawing suspensions. It was quite harsh.

  • Why such heavy penalties? They all lied and deceived. When the NFL first released its findings on this, I can't tell you how peeved Goodell was about the blantant dishonesty by Payton, Williams, Vitt, and Loomis -- and we haven't even gotten to the players yet. They'll be getting it too.

  • It was bad enough that the practice of bounties went on. It was worse that Williams and other non-players contributed funds. It was completely unacceptable to Goodell that on top of that, everyone was lying to his face.

  • If the Saints had just come clean initially, the penalties probably would have been cut in half, at least.

  • Goodell had to come down hard on both parts, player safety and the deceit. The player safety factor is obvious. The climate has changed in regard to player injuries and Goodell wasn't going to be seen trying to increase player safety through rule changes, and then going easy on a team that was deliberately trying to injure other players.

  • Goodell also had to come down hard on the lying. It's conduct detrimental to the league of the highest order.

  • If he had just slapped the Saints on the wrist for deceiving the league office, coaches and teams would have just continued to cover for each other in future investigations. Now, you better believe that if league investigators ask a player or coach a question, they are going to think longer and harder about how they answer since the Saints' harsh penalties will be in the back of their mind.

  • Amazing the details about how Williams carried out the bounty system with bookkeeping, etc. He's the John Mitchell of Watergate. With Williams being banned for at least a season, I'm not sure if he's ever a defensive coordinator again. He could be an assistant, but that's probably about it.

  • Around the league, the penalties were first met with gasps of, "Holy cow." And then there were snickers. Some across the league did not care for the arrogance that Payton and Williams have shown going about their business, that they act like the rules don't apply to them and they're smarter than everyone else. These penalties are viewed as huge pieces of humble pie to both.

  • Amazing that quarterback Drew Brees, who previously denied any knowledge of the bounty program's "real existence," took to Twitter to say that he is stunned and needs to have this explained to him. Uh, it's there Drew, in black and white.

  • If there's any good news to come out of this, it's that Medway native and former Boston College assistant Pete Carmichael Jr. is in line to either be the Saints' head coach or to call the shots offensively. He's already the offensive coordinator, but Payton called all the plays.


News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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