Suspensions and Fines Meted out by the NFL
Today, the NFL reacted to the “Pay for Play” or “Bounty System” that was found to be in place by the Saints organization from 2009 through 2011. The punishment was swift and severe.
To recap, Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year beginning April 1st, without pay, and will miss the entire 2012 season. General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for eight games, and has been fined $500,000.00. The suspension is set to begin at the start of the regular season so Loomis will be available for the upcoming NFL draft. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely with the caveat that Commissioner Roger Goodell will review Williams’ situation at the end of the 2012 season and only after that, will Williams’ re-instatement be considered. Assistant Coach Joe Vitt was also suspended for the first six games of 2012, without pay, and fined $100,000.00. Lastly, the Saints organization has been fined $500,000.00, and the team loses its second round pick in 2012 (it has no first round pick this year, by the way) and the team loses its second round pick in 2013. Now that the coaches and management have been disciplined, we will have to wait and see what the punishment will be for players who were involved in the bounty program, and, according to the NFL, players were involved.
In reaction, QB Drew Brees tweeted, “I am speechless. Sean Payton is a great man, coach, and mentor. The best there is. I need to hear an explanation for this punishment.” Well, if you want to read the entire explanation, here it is in the form of the NFL’s official announcement on the subject. If you don’t care to read the whole thing, the reasons for the punishment can be summed up in this poignant sentence from it: “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.”
From a football perspective, the punishment from the NFL could take a toll on the psyche of the team and its fans. With lost draft picks, and a likelihood key defensive players may be lost for at least a part of the season, this could push the Saints organization in the wrong direction — from a winning team to a losing team. Certainly, picking the Saints to win the NFC South is very much in question, and we would even say doubtful right now.
From a football perspective, we expect the Saints to finally sign Drew Brees to a long term deal to build stability in the Saints organization. If there is any stability on the Saints this season, we would expect it to be on the offensive side of the ball, as opposed to the defensive side of the ball.
From a fantasy football perspective, we all love the Saints because the team is chock full of fantasy football talent. So, we still like the prospect of Saints’ offensive players to play well this season. You can see how we saw the fantasy football relevant Saints a month ago in our first 2012 fantasy football pre-season ranking by position.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints’ defense/special teams will be drafted in fantasy football no better than a number-two defensive unit. Indeed, look at any depth chart of the Saints on defense, and their ranks could get thin, awfully fast, and could become vulnerable, depending on which players are suspended and for how long.
What is amazing about the Saints’ “Pay for Play” or “Bounty System” is that it was supposedly in place in 2011, and yet the Saints DST was not a very good fantasy football choice last season. The unit generally did not play well for fantasy footballers that gave them the start. It also suggests that this kind of incentive — pay for play — may really not “pay-off” as one would think.
In short, this is a story that will continue to develop for the NFL, the Saints, their fans, and fantasy footballers. To be continued…
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