Sean Payton during the 2011 season. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty…)
The NFL's news release announcing that it was suspending New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton for one year, along with the other punishments the Saints received for their defensive unit offering bounties if they injured opposing players, contains some interesting items, including:
"Payments were made for plays such as interceptions or fumble recoveries. All such payments are against league rules. Payments also were made for plays on which opposing players were injured. In addition, specific players were sometimes targeted. The investigation showed bounties being placed on four quarterbacks of opposing teams -- Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner. Multiple sources have confirmed that several players pledged funds toward bounties on specific opposing players, with defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2010."
Also included in the news release:
"[Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg] Williams acknowledged that he designed and implemented the program with the assistance of certain defensive players. He said that he did so after being told by Saints Head Coach Sean Payton that his assignment was to make the defense 'nasty.'
The release notes that the Saints were one of the top five teams in the league in roughing the passer penalties from 2009 to 2011. In 2009 and 2011, they were also in the top five teams in unnecessary roughness penalties and ranked sixth in 2010. After the January 16, 2010, divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saints defensive players were assessed $15,000 in fines for fouls committed against opposing players. The following week, in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saints defensive players were assessed $30,000 in fines for four separate hits, some of which were directed at Favre, the Vikings' quarterback.
The release paints a poor portrait of Payton:
"When interviewed in 2012, Sean Payton claimed to be entirely unaware of the program, a claim contradicted by others. Further, prior to the Saints' opening game in 2011, Coach Payton received an email from a close associate that stated in part, 'PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers [sic].' When shown the email during the course of the investigation, Coach Payton stated that it referred to a 'bounty' on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers."
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