Sean Payton Suspension: Why He's Being Made Scapegoat for Saints' Bounty Mess
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year, making him the focal point of the NFL's punishment for the team's bounty program. While his suspension is severe, I can't really find fault with the league's ruling.
Payton didn't start the program or oversee it—defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was guilty of that. But he did know about it and did not put a stop to it. That makes him as guilty as everyone else involved.
As the head coach, Payton is responsible for everything that goes with the Saints while he is in charge, good or bad. I don't think he is a bad guy or anything, but Payton needs to be held responsible for what happened under his leadership.
Yes, one year out of the league is a big deal, and he's losing all of his $7.5 million salary as a result. But the fact that the Saints had a program in place to reward players who injured opponents is a big deal too.
The NFL had to come down hard, and someone had to be on the receiving end of that punishment. Payton earned it by being the man who was supposed to be in charge.
I've talked to plenty of Saints fans who think the league was far too harsh on Payton, but I just can't agree. After three years of offering bonuses for injuring opponents, being told of the program and refusing to take leadership and end the program, the 48-year-old head coach has been punished harshly. But, frankly, he deserved it.
I'm not anti-Saints, and in fact I've always kind of pulled for Drew Brees and Payton to be successful. I like both guys a lot. But the NFL simply had to come down hard on the Saints and their head coach as well. Payton took the brunt of the punishment, but that should have been expected.
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