I normally do my best to only use this space for things that are related to the Seahawks, but this story is too big not to comment on it. Today the NFL announced major penalties against the New Orleans Saints:
- Head Coach (and offensive play caller) Sean Peyton has been suspended for 1 full year
- Defensive coordinator Greg Williams (and thus the defensive play caller) has been suspended indefinitely
- The Saints will no longer have 2nd round picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts.
- The team has been fined half a million dollars.
- It is unclear if the coaches involved, or any players, will be fined as well.
At the heart of the problem is the well reported “bounty” program the Saints had employed, where as players were given bonuses for particularly violet hits on opposing players. Larger payouts would be given if the player was injured from the hit, and if the player was a key player for the other team. Excessive bounties could be earned for injuring star players, like the opposing team’s QB.
While all of this sounds bad, be careful not to judge the Saints too hard for this practice. It’s actually been commonplace in the NFL for decades. So while the media has concentrated on the bounty issue and the “player safety” angle of this story, that is not the reason for the fines and suspensions.
The real problem is that the commissioner’s office issued a ruling that specifically forbid this type of program. Instead of stopping, the Saints increased the scope of their bounty program. Making matters worse is that they worked to cover up the bounty program once they were caught. There were plenty of reports of assistants being told to lie, and that sort of thing.
This is clearly a big deal. The Saints are going to be without their two most important coaches for the entire season. Imagine the Seahawks losing both Pete Carroll and Tom Cable right now, a month before the draft, and before any preparations for the upcoming season have begin. It would be devastating.
Feel free to remove the Saints from any list of Super Bowl contenders that are out there.