NFL hands out bounty suspensions to Saints, Packers and Browns players
Bringing the messy ‘bounty-gate’ saga to a close, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has handed down major suspensions to four members of the 2009 New Orleans Saints.
Back in the 2009-2010 season (when the Saints won the Superbowl), the team was operating a slush fund to pay defensive players cash rewards for ‘big hits’ on players.
The rewards increased in scale with the severity of the hit, with the largest bonuses being paid for knocking a player out of the game.
Goodell initiated an investigation into the Saints when the allegations first came to light in 2009, but nothing came of it. It wasn’t until this year, when fresh evidence came to light, supposedly from an informant.
Hall-of-fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp (also an analyst for the NFL Network), publicly accused tight end Jeremy Shockey as being the whistleblower. Shockey was a member of the 2009 Saints, and is currently a free agent, having been released by New Orleans at the end of the 2010 season and playing for the Carolina Panthers last year. Sapp lost his job with the network over the incident, and has since declared bankruptcy.
The NFL handed down heavy sanctions to the coaches and officials involved in the scandal. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams was suspended from coaching with the NFL indefinitely, which interrupted things for the St. Louis Rams, as they had signed Williams to run their defence.
General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for six games and is facing fresh allegations of wiretapping. Head coach Sean Payton had been locked out for an entire season, with assistant head coach Joe Vitt joining Loomis with a six game suspension. While no direct penalty was levied on owner Tom Benson, the team was docked $500,000 and lost their second round picks in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts.
When those sanctions were handed out, there was no fines or suspensions handed out to the players involved. The delay was largely due to the involvement of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which is the player’s main outlet for defence against NFL disciplinary action.
Ending weeks of speculation as to when the penalties would be handed down (and no doubt timed to be after the NFL draft hype), Goodell has suspended four players over their involvement in the bounty scandal.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (still with the Saints) was suspended without pay for the entire season, which was expected given he was personally offering $10,000 to anyone who could knock quarterbacks Brett Favre (then with the Vikings) or Kurt Warner (then with the Cardinals) out of the game during the Saints’ playoff run.
Defensive end Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) was sidelined for eight games. Fellow defensive lineman Will Smith (still a Saint) was suspended for four games, while linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) was sent home for 3 games – all without pay.
Posted on May 4, 2012, in News and tagged Bountygate, Browns, Cleveland, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Packers, Saints. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.