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Goodell lowers boom on the Saints


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during Super Bowl Champion Coach Press Conference at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center on February 8, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) Original Filename: GYI0059521848.jpg


As expected, Commissioner Roger Goodell has hit the Saints hard for the bounty system that was employed for three seasons.

Per a league source, head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the full year.

But it could have been worse for Payton. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely. (Presumably, that means at least a year.)

Also, G.M. Mickey Loomis has been suspended for eight games.

The discipline comes more than two weeks after the NFL concluded that the Saints maintained in 2009, 2010, and 2011 a system that paid defensive players for forced turnovers, big plays, and (most troublingly) hits that knocked opposing players out of the game.

Williams got the worst of it because the league concluded that he actually administered the program. As Peter King of Sports Illustrated explained in an excellent cover story for the magazine, Williams handed out envelopes full of cash at Saturday night defensive meetings following victories during the 2009 Super Bowl season.

Also, Williams lied to the NFL, likely on multiple occasions, about the bounty system. And he brazenly continued to do it for two full seasons after the league investigated a complaint from the Vikings that the Saints had a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre during the 2009 NFC title game.

Payton, though not directly involved in the bounty program, was aware of it and didn’t stop it.

UPDATE 12:59 p.m. ET: The NFL has issued a formal announcement regarding the discipline. The announcement also states that assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt has been suspended six games. The penalties imposed on the Saints organization will be discussed analyzed in a separate item.