Roger Goodell laid down the law once again. The NFL commissioner issued a harsh one-year suspension
to New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton for his role in the team's bounty system that rewarded defensive players for laying injurious hits on opposing players.
The system's creator, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams who is now with the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely by the league. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt will serve a six-game suspension.
All suspensions are without pay. Payton won't earn any of his $7.5 million salary during the ban, which begins April 1.
It's the most severe sanction for a head coach in the history of the NFL.
Payton was reportedly "stunned" by the news. "No, I'm not OK," he told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer
on Wednesday afternoon.
The franchise will also have to pay a $500,00 fine and will relinquish its second-round picks in 2012 and 2013.
"Beyond the clear and continuing violations of league rules, and lying to investigators, the bounty program is squarely contrary to the league's most important initiatives — enhancing player health and safety and protecting the integrity of the game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement
. "Let me be clear. There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness, and safety."