The NFL has dropped the hammer on the New Orleans Saints in the wake of a three-year investigation of the team's "pay-for-performance" bounty system.
The league has suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton without pay for the entire 2012 season; Saints GM Mickey Loomis for the first eight games of the upcoming season; and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- now with the St. Louis Rams -- indefinitely.
The Saints, who have been fined $500,000, also must forfeit their second-round draft in both the 2012 and 2013 drafts.
Joe Vitt, New Orleans' linebackers coach and assistant head coach, was a potential interim replacement for Payton, but he was also suspended for six games for his part in the scandal and subsequent coverup.
It is a massive penalty, one that is likely to devastate one of the league's most popular franchises.
The Saints were found to be paying players -- from a cash pool made up of contributions of players, Williams and others -- for injuring opponents. The rewards included $1,000 for causing an opponent to be carted off the field, and $1,500 for a knockout.
One of the reasons the penalties are so severe is that the league had instructed the Saints to dismantle the program, and they did not.
NFL suspends Sean Payton, Gregg Williams for Saints bounty scandal
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.