By Jeremy Clements
The St. Louis Rams will be without defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for at least the 2012 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed down the indefinite suspension against Williams earlier today, along with penalties to New Orleans Saints personnel who were involved in the bounty program.
Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the entire season. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis will each miss the first eight regular season games. The team was also fined $500,000 and will be forced to forfeit two second round draft picks as a result of a bounty program conducted by the team during the 2009-11 seasons.
There is even less certainty about when, or if Williams will return to the sidelines. The former Saints defensive coordinator, who helped fund the bounty program in New Orleans will miss at least the entire 2012 season. Williams will meet with Goodell at the end of the season to determine if he will be reinstate and what the terms of that reinstatement will be.
Goodell released the following statement:
“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. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised. A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious. 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.”
An NFL investigation revealed that the Saints paid players thousands of dollars for hits that aimed to cause injury and force opposing players out of games. According to the details of the investigation released earlier this month, there were between 22-27 players who participated in this program during the Saints 2009 title run.