NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he plans to announce punishments soon for the New Orleans Saints players involved in the improper pay-for-performance bounty program, and rejected the notion those players were simply doing what their coaches told them.
"I don’t buy that, because the evidence is quite clear that the players embraced this," Goodell said in an interview with NFL Network's Rich Eisen. "They enthusiastically embraced it. They put the vast majority of the money into the program and they actually are the ones playing the game. They are on the field so I don’t think they are absolved from any responsibility because of that. I think everyone bears responsibility here."
The league has already imposed severe sanctions on Saints Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis, suspending them for a year and eight games, respectively. And former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been banned from the league indefinitely.
To this point, however, the 22 to 27 players involved have not been punished. Those include linebacker and team captain Jonathan Vilma, who promised $10,000 cash to any of his teammates who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC championship game.