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Drew Brees ‘speechless,’ Sean Payton ‘stunned’ over suspension

The punishments from the NFL to the Saints for running a bounty program were much harsher than anyone expected. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended a year, assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended six games and fined $100,000, GM Mickey Loomis was fined $500,000 and suspended six games, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended from the NFL indefinitely. The Saints were fined $500,000 and lost two second-round draft picks.

Quarterback Drew Brees, whose was questioned by Kyle Turley about his role in the program, was stunned by the punishment.

“I am speechless,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Sean Payton is a great man, coach, and mentor. The best there is. I need to hear an explanation for this punishment.”

Additionally, according to Pro Football Talk, Jay Glazer reported on NFL Network that Sean Payton was “stunned.” Glazer says Payton was expecting maybe a four-game suspension, and now he’ll be losing several million dollars after being suspended for the year.

To answer Brees’ question about an explanation, it sounds like the league was upset that the program went on for three years and that the team lied during the investigation. For being such “a great man,” Payton lied to the NFL to cover things up, and that is just one example of what he did wrong.

Sean Payton suspended one year as part of heavy penalties for bounty program

For the past three weeks, we have anxiously awaited the NFL’s ruling on the Saints bounty scandal. On Wednesday, that ruling was handed down in the form of the harshest punishment in NFL history. To begin with, Sean Payton will not be the acting coach in New Orleans next season. He has been suspended for a full year without pay, effective April 1. That was Roger Goodell just getting warmed up.

As a franchise, the Saints have been fined $500,000 and will be forced to forfeit their second-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts for a violation involving a competitive rule. Gregg Williams, the man who was believed to be at the head of all things bounty, has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely and his situation will be reevaluated at the conclusion of next season. Saints GM Mickey Loomis will be suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season and fined $500,000. Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt will serve a six-game suspension and has been fined $100,000.

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Saints player reportedly said ‘Pay me my money’ after hurting Brett Favre

The biggest evidence against the Saints in the NFL’s bounty investigation may have come directly from the Saints.

According to Peter King, during the 2010 NFC Championship Game between the Saints and Vikings, an on-field microphone directed toward the sideline caught an unidentified defender saying, “Pay me my money!” after injuring quarterback Brett Favre’s ankle.

Favre was brutalized by the Saints and hit numerous times, even when he didn’t have the ball. Even a week after the game, his hamstring and ankle were seriously discolored.

People who are upset with a “snitch” for ratting out the Saints should look at New Orleans personnel first. Between this report and the 2010 interview by Gregg Williams, we’re seeing that the team’s actions and words are responsible for the NFL investigation.

It’s difficult to read a report like this one and deny that the monetary incentives drove the Saints to injure opponents, which as Kyle Turley says, crosses a big line. This is the exact sort of reason why the NFL will punish the Saints severely for operating the bounty system. Players would have played hard with the Super Bowl at stake, but would they have been as driven to injure their opponents? Maybe not.

Eli Manning on bounties: ‘That’s not what this game is about’

The response to the Saints bounty program controversy has differed. Many NFL players have said bounties are part of football. Others are outraged because they feel the bounties led to their players getting injured. Offensive players seem to be more upset with the bounties while defensive players don’t see the issue. Eli Manning belongs to the first group.

“It’s not good for football. We can’t have that be a part of this sport,” he told WABC. “It’s already a physical sport, but you have to play within the rules and you never want to see a guy or a team go out there and try to hurt someone else. Injuries are a part of football, but you try to eliminate them as much as you can.

Manning made similar comments to the New York Post, saying “When you start talking about injuring a guy and carting him off and trying to end his season or career, that’s not what this game is about. I think we should have more respect for the game than that. It can’t be a part of football.”

NFL players are either being hit or doing the hitting. The guys who get hit want protecting and a crackdown while the guys delivering the hits don’t want anything more taken away from them. But like Eli says, trying to injure opponents and get them carted off is not what football is about.

Kyle Turley: NFLPA exec Drew Brees may need to be suspended for bounties

Former Saints first team All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley introduced a new perspective to the analysis of the Saints bounty program. During a radio interview Monday, Turley charged the players union with the responsibility of investigating and stopping the bounty programs that provides financial incentives for players to injure other players. He specifically targeted Drew Brees, who is not only the union representative for the Saints, but also an NLFPA executive.

“What people really need to do is they need to be meeting with the union and anybody from with the Saints. They should be meeting with Drew Brees, because Drew Brees is not only a union representative member for the New Orleans Saints, he’s an executive board member,” Turley told Craig Shemon on Yahoo! Sports Radio. “And I would like to know personally what he knew about this bounty system because he’s not only in charge of the safety of his players in that locker room in New Orleans, he’s supposed to be in those meetings responsible for all players across the league as it pertains to those types of issues. Where has the union been in this? That’s what really needs to be found out.”

Turley said he understands why players would not have a problem taking a few thousand dollars to hurt a fellow player.

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Charles Barkley: Whoever ratted Gregg Williams out for bounties is a ‘punk’

As is the case with any other major sports scandal, the opinions about Bountygate are rolling in at a rapid pace in the wake of the news breaking on Friday. Some are outraged while others consider bounties on opponents to be a part of the game. Not surprisingly, Charles Barkley is a member of the latter group. Not only that, but Barkley is outraged that someone would even come forward and rat out Gregg Williams.

“You have to be a punk to snitch that out,” Barkley said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show, according to Pro Football Talk. “That’s like giving a reporter an anonymous quote. That makes you a punk, if you do anonymous, but also, you don’t bring that out x amount of years later. I mean you don’t compete in it if you don’t want to be in it. But I’ve seen at least three or four well-known NFL players say all teams have bounties. So I’m glad they came to Gregg Williams’ defense. Because I’m pretty sure all teams have that.

“In the heat of an NFL game, when guys are trying to make tackles, you’re always trying to hit the guy as hard as possible. I think you always want to knock the best players out of the game. I want to get Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady out of the game. That’s better for my team. Do I want to hurt them? No, but I want to hit them hard. That’s better for my team.”

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Tony Dungy: Titans targeted Peyton Manning when Gregg Williams was there

Tony Dungy believes Gregg Williamsbounty system targeted Peyton Manning as far back as Williams’ tenure as defensive coordinator for the Titans from 1997-2000, and possibly again with the Redskins in 2006.

“I know they had them in Tennessee,” Dungy said in a text to Pro Football Talk. Although Williams reportedly had a bounty system in place during during his time in Washington, Dungy added he wasn’t sure whether bounties were offered when the Redskins injured Manning during a game over five years ago.

Dungy said during a Football Night in America broadcast last year that he believed Manning’s neck problems may have started with a hit by former Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels in 2006. Williams was the Redskins’ defensive coordinator at the time. Manning was shaken up on the play, which wdid not draw a flag but resulted in a $5,000 fine for Daniels.

The allegation that Williams’ bounty system may have sparked Manning’s neck problems is very significant but, for now, still unfounded. Then again — just speculating here — if Williams acknowledged having a pay-for-play system with the Saints, and another coach claims Williams had one with the Titans, why should anyone believe he didn’t do the same during his tenure in D.C.?