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Sean Payton Suspended: NFL Takes Appropriate Action Against Saints' Head Coach

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 21, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints watches his team before they take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Bravo, Mr. Goodell.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell smacked the New Orleans Saints' organization with stiff penalties behind Bounty-Gate.

Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

Per a league source, head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the full year.

But it could have been worse for Payton.  Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely.  (Presumably, that means at least a year.)

Also, G.M. Mickey Loomis has been suspended for eight games.

You finally proved that you would levy just as harsh a punishment on the non-usual suspects in the matter of gridiron crimes.

Never heard that term before?

It's because I just made it up. Considering the number of fines, suspensions, etc., that have been doled out by the NFL for illegal hits, it seems appropriate to make such a reference.

All along, Roger Goodell and the NFL have claimed that player safety was of the utmost concern. But it seemed only the players on the field were being penalized. Never mind the fact that they were being encouraged—and in this instance, paid—to bring the pain.

With Payton's suspension and the Saints organization's overall punishment, those in positions of authority are being held accountable. We can argue whether hitting to injure or to knock out of a game is a bad thing. But to me, this isn't about that.

This is about sticking to the ideal that the league has verbally committed to.

Players like James Harrison and Dunta Robinson aren't as nuts as you think. They learned their approach to hitting, and it's been encouraged by coaching.

Don't be foolish enough to believe that the Saints are the only ones.

If you want to change the way the game is played, it starts with coaches and their emphasis.

It is unfair to teach a hard-nosed, rough and nasty approach and then turn a blind eye to those who are penalized for carrying out that style.

In 2010, Goodell issued a memo to NFL players and coaches. In light of this situation, two passages stick out:

One of our highest priorities is player safety. We all know that football is a tough game that includes hard contact. But that carries with it an obligation to do all that we can to protect all players from unnecessary injury caused by dangerous techniques from those who play outside the rules.

and:

Coaches are expected to teach playing within the rules. Failure to do so will subject both the coach and the employing club to discipline.

Whether you agree with the initiative or not, the direction was made clear. It's time coaches are held accountable.

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