In semi-expected but still stunning news, the NFL has suspended Sean Payton for an entire year for his role in the "Bountygate" scandal.
I expected Payton be suspended for being aware of what was going on, if the NFL's reports were correct, but I never thought it would be for an entire year. The move sends a strong signal the NFL will basically string up any team that is caught doing this in the future, and the Saints are clearly being made an example of. Everything you thought you knew about them for the 2012 season is shifting.
Do I entirely agree with this? Yes and no. Yes because the Saints did something wrong, even if we're not 100% sure of what it was, and they flouted the league's investigation and kept it going after they were warned the NFL was on to them. As I've said before, there's no sympathy here for the organization. Their hubris got them caught, and while the penalties are severe—it looks like Mickey Loomis will get eight games and Gregg Williams an indefinite suspension—the NFL wasn't going to let them get off lightly given its focus on player safety. You can't play with fire and expect to come away with cool fingers.
But as satisfying as it is to see the Saints getting raked over the coals for this, the NFL has to continue to investigate. If they find other teams were doing it, they must equal those punishments or risk signaling that they're not completely serious about stopping performance-based bonuses and those for injuring players. That wouldn't be great for the league's image.
So let's see what comes for the players, but this is one hell of a chop to the wrist for the Saints.
As always, I remind you not to go taunt Saints fans no matter how much you dislike them. This is a rough day for them.