National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell spoke today, and it is clear that the New Orleans Saints wish he had not. Goodell levied the harshest penalties in league history for a non-drug related offense. The league announced Wednesday that the NFL has suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for one year, and the team will lose its second round pick in 2012 and ’13 as well as pay a $500,000 fine. The penalties are a result of the NFL’s bounty investigation. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, and was believed to have orchestrated the program, has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis faces an eight-game suspension and a $500,000 fine.
“The game doesn’t need to be played this way,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on NFL Network. “We think that while it is a strong message, it’s an important one to send — that we need to protect our players.” Goodell doesn’t believe the saints cooperated fully, and told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network today, “This went on for three years and it was investigated we were misled, there were denials throughout that period. Clearly, we were lied to. We investigated this back in 2010. We were told it was not happening and it continued for another two years.” The NFL said it is the first time the league has suspended a head coach.
The explanation for Payton’s ban indicates he tried to cover up what the Saints were doing. According to ESPN—who said that according to the NFL, Payton ignored instructions from the league and Saints ownership to make sure bounties weren’t being paid.
The league also chastised him Wednesday for choosing to “falsely deny that the program existed,” and for attempting to “encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to ‘make sure our ducks are in a row.'” Payton’s season-long suspension without pay will cost him $7.5 million, sources familiar with the contract extension the Saints coach signed before the 2011 season told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. Payton also had incentives that could potentially have boosted his pay above the $7.5 million salary. Greg Williams will lose in excess of his $2 million-plus in salary for the ’12 season, with his status beyond still undetermined due to his status of indefinite suspension. Saints quarterback Drew Brees wasn’t happy with the ruling and Tweeted this today, “Sean Payton is a great man, coach, and mentor. The best there is. I need to hear an explanation for this,”
The Saints have been caught red handed, and while the NFL has known of this illegal practice for some time, you had to assume that the first team to get caught leaving a paper trail would pay dearly, and the Saints most certainly have.
This isn’t over by any means. Players are still going to be punished. The NFL said the scheme involved 22 to 27 defensive players, and targeted quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs. According to the league, Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any player who knocked then-Vikings QB Favre out of the 2010 NFC Championship Game. Warren Sapp, the former All-Pro defensive tackle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland raiders tweeted that Jeremy Shockey was the possible snitch that blew the case wide open for the NFL. Sapp Tweeted, “QBKILLA BINGO! RT @elnicastro: Shockey..? RT QBKILLA: Just Heard Who The Snitch Was”.
THE BIG STORY PAR II AND POSSIBLY III (TRADE HITS A SNAG): language alert:
Not 24 hours after announcing that they have secured their quarterback for the immediate future in Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos traded away last year’s starter, Tim Tebow to of all places, the New York Jets. Can you see it now, Tebow alongside Mr. Fuck this and Fuck that himself, Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
God’s quarterback will now take his place in the city that never sleeps alongside Eli, A-Rod, Jeter, Linsanity, and in the process probably become the most marketable athlete on Madison Ave. since Tiger Woods was thought to be a happily married non cheating husband.
While Manning got a $96 million contract from Tebow’s old team, the new Jets QB’s endorsements could easily top that in no time at all. The Jets confirmed agreeing to the deal on their website. FOX Sports ‘Jay Glazer broke the news that the Jets pick up Tebow and the Broncos’ seventh-round pick for a fourth- and sixth-round choice. This is also probably a shock to the former Florida Gator QB, who recently expressed interest in wanting to return to play in the Sunshine State if the Broncos signed Manning. Monica Culpepper, wife of former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Brad Culpepper, and also a former Gator, told a radio station in Tampa, “Brad and I just had dinner with Tim last week and I don’t think this comes as a shock or surprise to him that Manning was actually going to go there. Mrs. Culpepper also told 970 WFLA in Tampa, “And in all honesty, Tim said, ‘I miss home. I miss the South. And hopefully I’ll land somewhere in Florida.’ I sure hope Jacksonville takes him because he’s such a great kid, such a good player and would be so thrilled to come back to the South.” Well Tim, your certainly not in the south anymore, and if you though the scrutiny and microscope was big in Denver, you haven’t seen anything yet. Despite a season in which current Jets QB Mark Sanchez struggled, and was criticized within his own locker room, Mike Tannenbaum, Jets GM recently gave him a contract extension through 2016.
The deal was for three-years at $40.5 million. Tebow, who is scheduled to make about $6.8 million over the next three seasons, will undoubtedly push Sanchez for the starting job as he did Kyle Orton in Denver. The Jets wanted another QB in place to compete with Sanchez as Tebow joins newly signed Drew Stanton and former Alabama star, Greg McElroy as the other backups. Tebow’s arrival can stir the post on sports talk radio and in the columns of the New York papers the next time the former USC standout struggles. Sanchez’s relationship with his teammates was already thought to be brittle, and even more so with the unforgiving fan base in New York. When you compare Tebow to Sanchez, there isn’t really that much of a difference.
Tebow is often beat up for his 47.3% career completion percentage, but Sanchez isn’t much better at 55.3 percent. Last season, Tebow beat Sanchez in typical Tebow style on national TV during a Thursday night game. With 58 seconds remaining, and the Jets expecting Tebow to option-run the ball, he still scored on a 20-yard run to give the Broncos a 17-13 Week 11 win. The defeat in Denver began the downward spiral that became the Jets end of the season. Rex Ryan wants to get back to pounding the football and playing great defense as his teams formula for success. Tebow could be a big part of that formula, especially on the ground. The Jets new offensive coordinator is former Dolphins head coach Tony Sporano, who knows a thing or two about the “Wildcat” and with an option player like Tebow back there, as well as a few speed backs to match, the Jets’ offense could be pretty surprising, and good. They finished 8-8, and missed the playoffs for the first time under Rex Ryan, and while the Broncos also finished 8-8, they did so in the AFC West, home of the worst division in football last season.
Including the playoffs, Tebow went 8-5 as the Broncos’ starter in 2011. He took over after a 1-4 start in Week 7, and Denver won seven of his first eight starts, most in come from behind fashion, which helped create Tebowmania. Denver managed to lose their final three regular-season games and backed into postseason as the AFC West champions. But it didn’t matter as Tebow beat the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers on the first play of overtime at Invesco Field in Denver causing wild celebrations. The move by the Jets didn’t take long to get a response from players on the team. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted: “ Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for @Mark_Sanchez let’s build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext.”
BTW……The NFL Network is reporting that there appears to be a snag in the Tebow trade. The Jets and Broncos are arguing over $5 million, which according to the sports network has placed the deal in jeopardy. STAY TUNED! And who said the NFL offseason is boring.