Roger Goodell slaps the taste out of Sean Payton's mouth
The NFL handed down sweeping and unprecedented punishment Wednesday for bounties paid out on big hits, suspending New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton without pay for next season and indefinitely banning the team's former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who now works for the St. Louis Rams.
Payton is the first head coach suspended by the league for any reason. He is accused of trying to cover up a system of extra cash payouts that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called "particularly unusual and egregious" and "totally unacceptable."
"We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities," said Goodell, whose league faces more than 20 concussion-related lawsuits brought by hundreds of former players. "No one is above the game or the rules that govern it."
According to the league, Payton ignored instructions from the NFL and Saints ownership to make sure bounties weren't being paid. The league also chastised him 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.' "
Goodell also banned Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games next season, and assistant coach Joe Vitt for the first six games.
In addition, Goodell fined the Saints $500,000 and took away their second-round draft picks this year and next.
After the NFL first made its investigation public on March 2, Williams admitted to -- and apologized for -- running the program while in charge of the Saints' defense from 2009-11. He was hired by the Rams in January.
Goodell will review Williams' status after the upcoming season and decide whether he can return to the league.
Has Brees re-signed yet?
Saints quarterback Drew Brees reacted quickly to the news on Twitter, writing: "I am speechless. Sean Payton is a great man, coach, and mentor ... I need to hear an explanation for this punishment."
Who cares about the timing, this is very disgusting:
On the day that members of the Saints' brass will have their appeals heard for their roles in New Orleans' bounty system, damning audio has been released of Gregg Williams, the man who orchestrated the program, instructing his players to injure San Francisco 49ers players in their wild-card playoff game last season.
Williams can be heard in the audio recording instructing his defensive players to injure quarterback Alex Smith, running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis and receivers Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams.
According to Pamphilon, Gregg Williams pointed to his chin while telling his players to hit Smith "right there" and says, "Remember me. I got the first one. I got the first one. Go get it. Go lay that m----------- out."
Williams uses one of his favorite slogans in the speech -- "Kill the head and the body will die."
On Gore: "We've got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore's head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways."
On running back Kendall Hunter: "Little 32, we're going to knock the f--- out of him."
On Smith: "Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head."
On Kyle Williams: "We need to find out in the first two series of the game, that little wide receiver, No. 10, about his concussion. We need to f------ put a lick on him right now. He needs to decide. He needs to f------ decide."
On Crabtree: "We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake-ass prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy. We need to find out. He becomes human when we f------ take out that outside ACL."
On Davis: "We need to decide how many times we can bull rush and and we can f------ put Vernon Davis' ankles over the pile."