Say this for Roger Goodell:
When he goes, he goes big.
The New Orleans Saints conducted an on-going bounty program for big plays, big hits, and even cart-offs. What’s more, the Saints denied their dirty plan and continued their lawless ways for three years
In an era of intense scrutiny on player safety, the NFL Commissioner had to hurt badly a team that showed reckless disregard for that issue. Not just reckless, but arrogant.
So, Goodell drilled the dirty, lying, arrogant Saints with a cart-off for the ages:
A $500,000 team fine, the loss of two second-round draft picks, a year suspension for head coach Sean Payton, a half-season for general manager Mickey Loomis, an indefinite suspension for former defensive coordinator and apparent ringleader Gregg Williams. Player punishment is still to come.
Goodell absolutely pounded Payton of the Naperville Paytons. Pounded him big and badly. Payton’s enabling of the bounty program will cost him $6 million in salary, not to mention losing a season of directing an annual contender, and I don’t think he can even watch games on TV next season.
It’s a big hit. It was meant to be. It had to be.
Some people contend that every team has run something like the Saints’ pay-for-pain idea. Maybe, maybe not. But the Saints did it, continued doing it and got caught. So, consider this a tax on the stupid, as well.
Also consider this a resounding part of Goodell’s plan to sell the NFL as the oxymoron of clean violence. Battering and betting are two of the NFL’s greatest draws. Goodell can’t do anything about Las Vegas, but he can try to construct a template for acceptable damage. Good luck with that.
Players might not expressly intend to injure an opponent, but nobody denies that putting the quarterback out of a game is a happy by-product. It’s part of football.