On Wednesday afternoon, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the New Orleans Saints of the discipline to be imposed on team management for violating the league's "bounty" rule.
To summarize, the Saints were fined $500,000 and docked their second-round picks in both the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts. Coach Sean Payton is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective April 1. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season. Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately. Goodell will review Williams' status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms. Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season.
Steelers President Art Rooney II spoke to Steelers.com about this issue:
Q. What is your view of the discipline handed out by Commissioner Roger Goodell?
A. I can't comment exactly on the penalties themselves, other than the fact that they are severe penalties. I think the Commissioner wants to send a message that we are not going to stand for this kind of thing. So in general, I think it was the right approach. We don't need this in our game. People talk about that (bounties have) been around for many years. This sounds like something that is a little more over the line than anything I've ever heard of before. I think the Commissioner is sending a very loud and clear message here. Hopefully, the effect is going to be that we will get these kinds of things out of the game.
Q. In explaining his decision, Goodell also made references to being misled and lied to during the investigation. That lying seems to be a big part of the severity of the crime in his mind?
A. It's hard for me to comment on that part of it, simply because I am not privy to the investigation, or who said what to whom. It's clear that the Commissioner is upset about the way this was handled, and he has really come down with probably the most severe punishment I believe that a Commissioner has ever really administered that I am familiar with in the history of the league. It's a major decision by the Commissioner. Again, I think it's something that should not be a part of our game. I think he is taking steps to making sure it's not going to be part of the game.
Rooney also said the Steelers will comply with the league's directive to have the principal owner of every club meet with the head coach and confirm that the club does not operate a similar pay-for-performance or bounty program. The league's order also requires the owner to instruct his coach that no such program is permissible and that if such a program exists, it must be terminated immediately. Each principal owner and head coach must certify this in writing to the commissioner by March 30.