NFL’s Bounty Penalties Send Right Message

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By DERON SNYDER

The NFL was unequivocal about its stance on the New Orleans Saints’ so-called bounty program in March, when the league suspended head coach Sean Payton for one year and suspended former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. It also slapped Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt with eight- and six-game suspensions, respectively.

“Let me be clear,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement after issuing the league’s severest sanction ever for a head coach. “There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness and safety. Programs of this kind have no place in our game, and we are determined that bounties will no longer be a part of the NFL.”

Goodell could have cut and paste those sentiments into a statement Wednesday, when the other shoe fell on players implicated in the scandal. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was hit the hardest, drawing a one-year suspension that begins immediately and ends after the Super Bowl.

In addition to Vilma, defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) was suspended for eight games, Saints defensive Will Smith for four games and linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) for three games.

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