Mike Preston, Baltimore Sun columnist: If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended New Orleans head coach Sean Payton for 16 games as reported, it would be one of the stiffest punishments ever. Goodell is definitly sending a message that there is no room for this type of behavior in the NFL. The penalties put the Saints in a serious hole.
Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens reporter: When I first heard about this story a couple of weeks ago, I was probably more surprised about the reaction to it than the fact that something like this actually could go on. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning or belittling the actions of the Saints. There's no place for that in the sport, but I was a little surprised how shocked everybody was that something like this could exist given the physical and competitive nature of the NFL. Gregg Williams, who allegedly ran the "bounty" program, got what he deserved with the indefinite suspension. The fine and loss of draft picks also seems fair. But the year-long suspension to coach Sean Payton, along with the eight-game ban of GM Mickey Loomis, seems a bit harsh to me.
Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun columnist: Commissioner Roger Goodell just "jacked up" the New Orleans Saints to send a message to the entire league that it is serious about eliminating the most violent play from the NFL. Somewhere, Tom Brady is smiling and Terrell Suggs is steaming.
Kevin Cowherd, Baltimore Sun columnist: You knew the NFL was going to come down hard, but this is crazy-hard. Saints coach Sean Payton suspended for a year? Saints GM Mickey Loomis suspended for the first eight regular-season games of 2012? When they're suspending an assistant coach (Joe Vitt) for six games and docking him $100,00, you know Roger Goodell is serious about wiping out "bounty programs" that target players for injury. Good for him. Obviously, this was no slap on the wrist. The league needed to do something to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again -- and it did.
Ron Fritz, head of sports: The NFL and Roger Goodell bring the hammer down on the New Orleans Saints, and rightly so. Suspending head coach Sean Payton for the season and GM Mickey Loomis for eight games will set the Saints back years. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely, which hopefully means his career is over. Poor Ben Grubbs, the former Ravens guard who signed with the Saints a few weeks ago. He’ll get his money, but any thoughts of a Super Bowl are over. The NFL, which is trying to come up with solutions to limit head injuries, just sent notice that head hunting and tackling with the intent to injure will not be tolerated.
Monique Jones, sports content editor/former Patriots reporter: After such a harsh punishment, one has to wonder how the Saints will bounce back. With reports that player suspensions are to follow, the overall punishment has the feel of the NFL's version of the "death penalty."