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New Orleans Saints coach suspended for season over bounties

  • FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2010 file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, left, celebrates after winning the NFL Super Bowl XLIV football game in Miami. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for the 2012 season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was banned indefinitely on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, because of the team's bounty program that targeted opposing players. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Meting out unprecedented punishment for a crush-for-cash bounty system that targeted key opposing players, the NFL suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton without pay for next season and indefinitely banned the team's former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams.

Payton is the first head coach suspended by the league for any reason, accused of trying to cover up a system of extra cash payouts that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday called "particularly unusual and egregious" and "totally unacceptable."

Sending a message by taking a harsh stand, Goodell also banned Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games next season — believed to be the first time a GM was suspended by the NFL — 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.

"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."


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