New Orleans Saints Dealt Further Blow With Rejected Appeal

By iSportconnect | April 10, 2012

The National Football League (NFL) has rejected the New Orleans Saints’ appeal against the punishments issued to it in the ‘bounty’ scandal, it was revealed on Monday.

General manager Mickey Loomis, The Saints, head coach Sean Payton and assistant coach Joe Vitt, have been notified by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the decision to uphold the measures imposed for continuing violations of the League’s anti-bounty rule.

Hearing upon the news of the bounty enforced by the Saints, Goodell blasted the team’s “wilful disrespect of the rules”. The Saints were found guilty of implementing a bounty programme that offered payments to their players for ‘knock-outs’ and ‘cart-offs’ – plays on which an opposing player was forced to leave the game with an injury. The NFL said the scheme involved 22 to 27 defensive players, and that targeted opponents included quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. The NFL’s extensive investigation established the existence of an active bounty programme during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons, in violation of League rules. The NFL stated there was a deliberate effort to conceal the programme’s existence from League investigators, and a “clear determination” to maintain the programme despite express direction from Saints ownership that it stop as well as ongoing inquiries from the League office.

The Saints were fined US$500,000 and will forfeit their selections in the second round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts. Payton was suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, the first time the League had taken such action. Loomis was suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season, while former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely from the NFL, with a review of his situation set for the end of the 2012 season. Vitt was suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 campaign. Williams did not appeal against his suspension.

Following Monday’s ruling, the League stated that the Saints and the individuals will be expected to cooperate in any further proceedings and to assist in the development and implementation of programmes to instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play, and sportsmanship. In a statement, Goodell said he would consider mitigating the financial penalties on the individuals if they “embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way”.