No lenience for Saints, Payton

No lenience for Saints, Payton

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 13:43
To no one’s surprise, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell declined to reduce the penalties of Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for their role in the team’s three-year bounty program. The league announced Monday that Payton’s one-year ban will remain intact, as will Loomis’ half-season penalty and Vitt’s six-game suspension. It didn’t help their cause that their appeal, heard last Thursday, came on the same day that an audio clip surfaced of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the bounty ringleader, exhorting his players to injure their 49ers opponents in a 2009 playoff game. Each new scrap of evidence that comes to light reinforces Goodell’s indefinite ban on Williams. He clearly and stupidly, over the course of at least three years and probably at least a couple more, repeatedly crossed the line between playing tough football and attempting to injure opponents. There has been speculation that Williams, who has not appealed his punishment, will eventually be banned for life. That’s way over the top. While Williams’ methods were egregious and cannot be tolerated, a one-year ban gets the point across that the league is taking significant steps toward making the game safer and protecting its players. Even former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, one of the Saints’ targets, is on record as saying everyone, including Williams, deserves a second chance. As for Payton, I still believe a full year is too harsh. However, it’s difficult to ignore that the Saints and Payton blatantly and repeatedly lied to the league about the existence of their bounty program and continued it even after being informed that the league was watching. That makes it tougher to defend Payton. He certainly knew Williams’ methods were questionable, but he can’t be expected to be aware of every single word that comes out of his assistants’ mouths.
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