Sharks

Saints coach, GM take blame for the bounty scandal

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Saints coach, GM take blame for the bounty scandal

From Comcast SportsNet
Almost a week after the NFL pointed to them for failing to stop a bounty program involving some two dozen Saints players, coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that "happened under our watch." "These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game," Payton and Loomis added. "Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans," Payton and Loomis said in a joint statement Tuesday. Payton and Loomis also said New Orleans owner Tom Benson "had nothing to do" with the bounty pool. "We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility," they said. The league's investigation, released last Friday, said the bounty program was funded primarily by players for the past three seasons and was overseen by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He admitted to running the program and apologized within hours after the report surfaced. The NFL said it confirmed Benson was unaware of the program, and that he told Loomis to stop it immediately, but that Loomis did not. The league also said Payton, though not directly involved, was aware of the bounty pool, but did nothing to stop it. Williams now is defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. He met with NFL security officials on Monday as part of the league's ongoing investigation. Once it concludes -- the league says there is no timetable -- Roger Goodell likely will hand out the stiffest penalties of his 5 years as commissioner. Goodell has frequently taken a hard line on any action that threatens player safety. He suspended Detroit's Ndamukong Suh for two games for stomping on an opponent last season; banned Pittsburgh's James Harrison for one game after a series of flagrant hits that culminated in a collision with Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy's helmet; and has ramped up the amount of fines for what the league terms "egregious hits." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said before handing out any penalties, Goodell will review the information with his staff and consult with others, including the union and player leaders. The players' union has not seen a full report of the investigation, so it can't be certain if Goodell will levy punishment under the on-field discipline or the personal conduct policy. There's a major distinction, because players can appeal on-field punishment to independent arbitrators Art Shell and Ted Cottrell. Appeals under the personal conduct policy are heard by Goodell and other league officials. "The commissioner has broad authority to impose discipline for violation of league rules. We're not going to put it in a category right now," Aiello said. The NFL hasn't cited specific players, but fines and suspensions are probable for those found to have participated in the bounty program. "We take this issue seriously and we continue to look into it," union spokesman George Atallah said. Goodell fined the New England Patriots 250,000 and their coach, Bill Belichick, 500,000 for the Spygate scandal in 2007, when the team was caught illegally videotaping the Jets' sideline. New England also was stripped of a first-round draft pick. That violation pales in comparison to a bounty of up to 50,000 over the last three seasons that rewarded players for knocking targeted opponents out of games. The Saints can expect heavier sanctions than those given the Patriots, with suspensions likely for Loomis and Payton and a seven-figure fine for the organization. "I don't think there can be a limited focus -- if the league only is looking to penalize players and coaches," said George Martin, executive director of NFL Alumni and a former player, adding: "It is kind of shocking it still goes on in this time and age. "The organization has to take responsibility for it because it took place under their jurisdiction," he said. "The league needs to do whatever it takes in the way of discipline to make sure this is stemmed." John Lynch, an outstanding safety for 16 seasons, once was fined 75,000 for a hit on Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark. Lynch was one of the hardest and surest tacklers in the NFL. He is just as sure that Goodell will hand out hefty punishments. "I would expect this to be pretty severe and harsh because of the direction the commissioner has taken in making player safety if not his top initiative, then one of them," Lynch said. "If this is true, as blatant as this is, and to have a coach out there saying, You knock this guy out of the game. Get him taken off on a cart. Here is the monetary reward,' you need a severe and harsh punishment." That coach has been identified by the league as Williams, who could face a year's suspension and a six-figure fine. Maybe more. The Rams would not say Tuesday what duties Williams currently is performing. "Coach Williams has shown contrition for his actions and continues to cooperate with the NFL in this investigation," Rams GM Kevin Demoff told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Out of respect for the NFL's ongoing process, we will refrain from commenting until the league has come to a final decision on all aspects of this matter." Williams could turn to the NFL Coaches Association for help. Its executive director, David Cornwell, was concerned about individual coaches being singled out. "As this matter unfolds," Cornwell said, "I will work with our executive committee to protect the interests of individual coaches without compromising the NFLCA's fundamental belief that fair play and sportsmanship begins with the men who teach the game."

Thornton leaves game vs Jets in final minute with apparent knee injury

Thornton leaves game vs Jets in final minute with apparent knee injury

The San Jose Sharks not only lost in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, but also lost their second-leading scorer to injury. 

Joe Thornton left the final minute of the game with an apparent injury to his right knee. With Jets forward Andrew Copp backchecking, Mikkel Boedker collided into Thornton's knee in front of the Sharks bench. 

Thornton took a stride on each leg as he skated gingerly to the bench, and did not return to the game. 

The 38-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee this summer. He missed the final three games of the regular season last year, but returned to play in San Jose's final four postseason games in a first round, six-game loss to the Edmonton Oilers. 

Thornton is second on the Sharks with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists), and has scored nine points in his last seven games. He is second among forwards in average ice time, and is playing 18:20 per night in his 20th NHL season. 

Durant rips referee after ejection against Knicks: 'He was searching for me'

Durant rips referee after ejection against Knicks: 'He was searching for me'

With 2:50 left in Tuesday's game against the Knicks, Kevin Durant was ejected.

It's the fourth time this season that he's been thrown out of a game.

After the Warriors' 123-112 win, Durant didn't bite his tongue when asked about what happened between him and referee James Williams.

"In the first half, I was dribbling up the right side, I made a left to right cross. He said I carried, ah, you kinda let that go. I asked him 'Where'd you get the carry from?' He said 'You froze the defender.' I said 'That's what a crossover is for.' And that's why I do it, to freeze my defender. And he tried to make a bunch of excuses and I told him he was wrong," Durant said. "He went to halftime probably with an attitude and the second half, his whole thing was, he's trying to get me. So, look at my first tech. I got the rebound, dribbled the ball hard and he teched me up. He was searching for me, he lookin' to try to tech me up to get me back because he's still in his feelings from the first half. That's what been going on around the league the whole year, a bunch of that. I gotta keep my head a little bit, but I was upset."

Draymond Green attempted to hold Durant back prior to the ejection. Durant was asked about that after the game and was able to laugh about it.

"The irony," Durant said to much laughter from reporters at Oracle.

"I was not trying to hear it. He was right in doing so. I didn't want to get teched up or thrown out,  but I did want him to hear what I had to say," Durant said.

Durant can expect to hear from the league office regarding his comments.