Goodell, NFL notify Saints of widespread penalties


Goodell, NFL notify Saints of widespread penalties

The Saints violated the NFL's "bounty" rule, and league came down hard on New Orleans management Wednesday.

NEWS: NFL suspends Payton for yearHere is the official NFL press release:

Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the New Orleans Saints today of the discipline that will be imposed on team management for violations of the NFLs long-standing bounty rule that endangered player safety over a three-year period.

Discipline for individual players involved in the Saints prohibited program continues to be under review with the NFL Players Association and will be addressed by Commissioner Goodell at a later date. The program included bounty payments for knock-outs and cart-offs, plays on which an opposing player was forced to leave the game. At times, the bounties even targeted specific players by name.

The NFLs extensive investigation established the existence of an active bounty program on the Saints during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons in violation of league rules, a deliberate effort to conceal the programs existence from league investigators, and a clear determination to maintain the program despite express direction from Saints ownership that it stop as well as ongoing inquiries from the league office.

We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game, Commissioner Goodell said. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.

A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious, Commissioner Goodell continued. When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.

Following the March 2 announcement of the NFLs initial findings, the league office conducted further investigation, including Commissioner Goodell meeting with many of the key individuals involved, sometimes on multiple occasions. The commissioner also discussed the matter with the leadership of the NFL Players Association and individual players.

Based on the record, Commissioner Goodell has imposed the following discipline on Saints management:

The New Orleans Saints are fined 500,000. In addition, because the violation involves a competitive rule, the Saints will forfeit their selections in the second round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts.

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective April 1.

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season.

Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately. Commissioner Goodell will review Coach Williams status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms. Commissioner Goodell said he will give close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings.

Saints assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season.

The Saints and the individuals disciplined today are expected to participate in efforts led by the league office to develop programs that will instruct players and coaches at all levels of the game on the need for respect for the game and those who participate in it, on principles of fair play, safety and sportsmanship, and to ensure that bounties will not be part of football at any level.

Commissioner Goodell stated that the actions of the individuals disciplined today violated league rules and constituted conduct detrimental to the league and players. He said the existence of a pay-forperformancebounty program undermined the integrity of the game. The violations were compounded by the failure of Coach Payton to supervise the players and coaches and his affirmative decision starting in 2010 (a) not to inquire into the facts concerning the pay-for-performancebounty program even though he was aware of the leagues inquiries both in 2010 and 2012; (b) to falsely deny that the program existed; (c) to encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to make sure our ducks are in a row; and (d) to ignore instructions from the league office and club ownership to ensure that no such program existed.

Beyond the clear and continuing violations of league rules, and lying to investigators, the bounty program is squarely contrary to the leagues most important initiatives enhancing player health and safety and protecting the integrity of the game, Commissioner Goodell said. 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. Programs of this kind have no place in our game and we are determined that bounties will no longer be a part of the NFL.

A 2007 amendment to the NFL Constitution and By-Laws obligated coaches and supervisory employees to communicate openly and candidly with the principal owner andor his designated representative; to ensure that club ownership is informed on a complete and timely basis of all matters affecting the clubs operations; and to avoid actions that undermine or damage the clubs reputation or operating success. The obligation to supervise the coaching staff and players is also expressly set forth in the employment agreement signed by Coach Payton.

Commissioner Goodell said he will separately address potential sanctions for players and others with documented involvement in the bounty program.

While I will not address player conduct at this time, I am profoundly troubled by the fact that players including leaders among the defensive players embraced this program so enthusiastically and participated with what appears to have been a deliberate lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow players,

Commissioner Goodell said. While all club personnel are expected to play to win, they must not let the quest for victory so cloud their judgment that they willingly and willfully target their opponents and engage in unsafe and prohibited conduct intended to injure players.

While NFL staff has interviewed people in connection with public allegations of bounty programs at other clubs, no evidence was established showing that the programs at other clubs involved targeting opposing players or rewarding players for injuring an opponent. Commissioner Goodell emphasized that if additional information is brought to his attention that discloses bounties offered for injuring specific opposing players, he will revisit the matter to consider additional discipline.

The findings in the leagues investigation, corroborated by multiple independent sources, conclusively established the following:

1. The Saints defensive team operated a pay-for-performancebounty program, primarily funded by players, during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. Under that program, players regularly made cash donations to a pool, and were fined for mental errors, loafing, penalties, and the like. At least one assistant coach (defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) also occasionally contributed to the pool. There is no evidence that any club money was contributed to the program.

2. Payments were made for plays such as interceptions or fumble recoveries. All such payments are against league rules. Payments also were made for plays on which opposing players were injured. In addition, specific players were sometimes targeted. The investigation showed bounties being placed on four quarterbacks of opposing teams Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner. Multiple sources have confirmed that several players pledged funds toward bounties on specific opposing players, with defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offering 10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2010.

3. Coach Williams acknowledged that he designed and implemented the program with the assistance of certain defensive players. He said that he did so after being told by Saints Head Coach Sean Payton that his assignment was to make the defense nasty. Coach Williams described his role as overseeing record keeping, defining payout amounts, deciding on who received payouts, and distributing envelopes with cash to players who earned rewards.

4. In each of the 2009-2011 seasons, the Saints were one of the top five teams in the league in roughing the passer penalties. In 2009 and 2011, the Saints were also in the top five teams in unnecessary roughness penalties; in 2010, the Saints ranked sixth in the category. In the January 16, 2010 divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saints defensive players were assessed 15,000 in fines for fouls committed against opposing players. The following week, in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saints defensive players were assessed 30,000 in fines for four separate illegal hits, several of which were directed against quarterback Brett Favre.

5. Coach Williams now acknowledges that when he was first questioned about this matter in early 2010 he intentionally misled NFL investigators and made no effort to stop the program after he became aware of the leagues investigation.

6. Coach Williams further confirmed that the program continued during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and that he occasionally contributed funds to the pool in each of those seasons.

7. Assistant Head CoachDefense Joe Vitt acknowledged that he was aware of the program in 2009-2011. He admitted that, when interviewed in 2010, he fabricated the truth to NFL investigators and denied that any pay-for-performance or bounty program existed at the Saints.

8. Coach Vitt said one of his primary roles was to monitor the activity of Coach Williams. This was based on the direction of Coach Payton, who apparently had less than full confidence in Coach Williams. Despite Coach Vitts knowledge of the bounty program, his understanding of the terms knock-out and cart-off, his witnessing Coach Williams handing out envelopes that he believed to contain cash, and his acknowledgement that the defensive meeting preceding the 2010 NFC Championship Game may have got out of hand with respect to Brett Favre, Coach Vitt claimed he never advised either Coach Payton or General Manager Mickey Loomis of the pay-for-performancebounty program.

9. A summary prepared following a Saints preseason game included the statement, 1 Cart-off Crank up the John Deer (sic) Tractor in reference to a hit on an opposing player. Similar statements are reflected in prepared documents or slides in connection with other games in multiple seasons. A review of the game films confirms that opposing players were injured on the plays identified in the documents.

10. When interviewed in 2012, Sean Payton claimed to be entirely unaware of the program, a claim contradicted by others. Further, prior to the Saints opening game in 2011, Coach Payton received an email from a close associate that stated in part, PS Greg Williams put me down for 5000 on Rogers (sic). When shown the email during the course of the investigation, Coach Payton stated that it referred to a bounty on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

11. In early 2010, Mr. Loomis advised Coach Payton that the league office was investigating allegations concerning a bounty program. Coach Payton said that he met with his top two defensive assistants, Coach Williams and Coach Vitt, in advance of the interview with league investigators and told them, Lets make sure our ducks are in a row. Remarkably, Coach Payton claimed that he never inquired of Coach Williams and Coach Vitt as to what happened in the interviews, never asked them if a pay-for-performance or bounty program was in fact in place, and never gave any instructions to discontinue such a program.

12. In January 2012, prior to the Saints first playoff game of the 2011 season, Coach Payton was advised by Mr. Loomis that the league office had reopened the investigation. Coach Payton made a cursory inquiry but took no action to ensure that any bounty program was discontinued.

13. General Manager Mickey Loomis was not present at meetings of the Saints defense at which bounties were discussed and was not aware of bounties being placed on specific players. Mr. Loomis became aware of the allegations regarding a bounty program no later than February 2010 when he was notified of the investigation into the allegations during a meeting with NFL Executive Vice President-Football Operations Ray Anderson. He was directed to ensure that any such program ceased immediately. By his own admission, Mr. Loomis did not do enough to determine if a pay-for-performancebounty program existed or to end any such program that did exist.

14. Saints owner Tom Benson notified Mr. Loomis in January 2012 prior to the teams participation in the playoffs that the leagues investigation had been reopened. Mr. Benson reiterated his position that a bounty program was unacceptable and instructed Mr. Loomis to ensure that if a bounty program existed at the Saints it would stop immediately. By his own admission, Mr. Loomis responded to this direction by making only cursory inquiries of Coaches Payton and Williams. He never issued instructions to end the bounty program to either the coaching staff or the players.

15. There is no evidence that Saints ownership had any knowledge of the pay-for-performance or bounty program. There is no evidence that any club funds were used for the program. Ownership made clear that it disapproved of the program, gave prompt and clear direction that it stop, and gave full and immediate cooperation to league investigators.

Antawn Jamison: Warriors really miss Andrew Bogut

Antawn Jamison: Warriors really miss Andrew Bogut

The Warriors were crushed by the Spurs on Tuesday night, 129-100.

According to former Warriors forward Antawn Jamison, the loss highlighted the void left behind with Andrew Bogut's departure. 

"They were such in a comfort zone when they had Bogut and they knew that he would pick up some of the deficiencies if guys got blown by -- he was always the rim protector," Jamison explained on KNBR 1050. "Anderson Varejao and Zaza (Pachulia) are great defenders but as far as protecting that rim, they are not Bogut.

[POOLE: Rewind: Opener brings painful reminder nothing's given for Warriors]

"And I think now they are kind of realizing how much they miss his dynamic as far as controlling that paint and being satisfied with just 'that's my job -- is to make sure I make it difficult for guys in the paint' ... it's the first game of the season, there's no need to push the panic button."

Back in early September, Steve Kerr shared his one concern for the upcoming season:

“The thing that’s different will be a lack of rim protection,” Kerr told “We had great rim protection from Bogut and Ezeli, and both those guys are gone. Zaza’s a very good defender, but he’s more of a positional guy than a shot blocker.

“So there’s definitely adjustments we’ll have to make, even schematically. We’ll have some growing pains, especially on defense, as we try to make sure we get everything right and comfortable.”

Pachulia registered just two points and three rebounds in 20 minutes, and turned the ball over three times.

Andre Iguodala scored just two points in 27 minutes off the bench. He committed three fouls and was a -28 for the game.

[RATTO: Spurs show early superiority over Warriors with sum of their parts]

Ian Clark missed all four of his 3-point attempts and was a team-worst -29, while Shaun Livingston was a -15.

"The Warriors' bench to me is going to be the biggest key this year because other than that Big Four offensively, nobody was bringing firepower off the bench," Jamison declared. "We know what Livingston and Iguodala can bring to the table, but somebody else off that bench really has to come in and step up and pick up the slack as well.

"I'm not worried at all. It just put in perspective that they really miss Bogut, and the bench needs to step up."

Could JaVale McGee ultimately be the answer at center?

"If he's able to focus and realize that he can contribute so much to this team with his length and his athletic ability, if he can be one of those guys that come off that bench and control that paint, I can see him eventually becoming a starter or getting starter minutes," Jamison answered.

Player-by-player examination of the 2016-17 Kings

Player-by-player examination of the 2016-17 Kings

Opening night is finally upon us. When the Sacramento Kings take on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, they do so with plenty of new faces from the team that finished last season 33-49. Here is a quick look at the team that will take the floor during the 2016-17 campaign with the hopes of snapping the Kings’ decade-long playoff drought.

Who’s Gone

After Sacramento decided not to pursue Rajon Rondo, the former All-Star took big money to join the Chicago Bulls. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson will be asked to fill the void left by the NBA’s leading assist man from last season. Also leaving the Kings are Seth Curry (Mavericks), Quincy Acy (Mavericks), James Anderson (Turkey), Caron Butler (free agent), Eric Moreland (free agent), Duje Dukan (Croatia) and Marco Belinelli (traded to Hornets).  

Who’s New

With Rondo leaving, Vlade Divac took a one-year, league minimum gamble on Lawson with the hopes that he can turn around his career. Veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo was inked to a 2-year, $25 million deal with a team option in year two at $1.5 million. At the wing, Garrett Temple (3-years/$24 million) and Matt Barnes (2-year/$12.5 million) were added for depth. Anthony Tolliver was brought in to play the stretch four position. He’s on a two-year $16 million deal with a team option at $2 million in year two. With two draft day deals, the Kings were able to make three selections in the first round, drafting big man Georgios Papagiannis (13th overall), wing Malachi Richardson (22nd overall) and power forward Skal Labissiere (28th overall).  

Who’s Left

DeMarcus Cousins is entering his seventh season with the Kings and expected to play a huge role in the upcoming season. Despite politely asking for a new address during the summer, Rudy Gay is back for another season in Sacramento. Ben McLemore is entering his fourth season with the Kings after being selected with the seventh overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft. Forward Omri Casspi returns for his third straight season in Sacramento, although he’s played for the Kings for five of his eight NBA seasons. Point guard Darren Collison is in the final year of his 3-year, $15 million deal that he signed in the summer of 2014. Big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos are back for year two. Cauley-Stein was selected with the sixth overall pick last year and Koufos is in the second season of a 4-year, $33 million deal.   

The Starters

Ty Lawson - Point Guard

The 28-year-old veteran will man the point guard position while Collison is out for the first eight games of the season (league suspension).  Lawson spent last year bouncing between Houston and Indiana, playing in a combined 66 regular season games. The speedy guard is coming off a down year and looking to get back to the player that averaged 15.2 points and 9.6 assists during the 2014-15 season in Denver. He is expected to lead the second unit once Collison returns to action Nov. 8 at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Arron Afflalo - Shooting Guard

Afflalo joins the Kings after playing last season for the New York Knicks. The 31-year-old shooting guard brings a stabilizing influence to the Kings’ backcourt. He’s bounced around the league a bit, but he can shoot from the outside (career 38.5 percent from 3-point range) and has a nice post game for a guard. He’ll be asked to play major minutes early in the year

Rudy Gay - Small Forward

When Gay signed a 3-year extension in 2014, it was with the understanding that he would form a nice 1-2 punch with DeMarcus Cousins under head coach Michael Malone. Three coaches later, Gay has already informed the team that he will opt out at season's end. He is coming off a down offensive season, but his role in George Karl’s system was limited a season ago. The 30-year-old forward has every reason to put up big numbers as he approaches free agency next summer.

DeMarcus Cousins - Power Forward

The franchise cornerstone big man is fresh off Olympic gold and looking for his first playoff berth. After averaging 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season, Cousins has clearly cemented himself as the game’s best pivot. He’ll be asked to open the game at the power forward spot, but will spend most of his season manning the center position. He’s taylormade to play in Joerger’s high-post style of play and primed for his third straight All-Star bid.

Kosta Koufos -- Center

Teams around the league like to start big and then make mid-quarter adjustments. Koufos knows Joerger’s system from their time together in Memphis. He will get the nod early, but expect plenty of Willie Cauley-Stein, Matt Barnes, Anthony Tolliver and Omri Casspi alongside Cousins as Joerger looks for the right mix. Koufos is a defensive-minded big that can rebound and score efficiently around the hoop. He’s in the best shape of his career and will likely be asked to open the game guarding the opponent's tough big.

The Rotation

Garrett Temple

While Collison is out, the Kings will ask Temple to play plenty of point guard minutes behind Lawson. After game eight, the versatile wing will play minutes at the 1, 2 and 3 as a perimeter stopper. He’s not a scorer, but Temple is a great locker room influence and plays with an infectious tenacity that fans will instantly appreciate.    

Ben McLemore

After starting 190 games in his first three seasons in the league, McLemore will get an early shot to play behind Afflalo at the two. He’s had plenty of struggles, but the former first round pick can shoot, he’s a big time leaper and he has the tools to be a very good NBA defender. If he can’t show that he’s ready to play rotational minutes during Collison’s absence, it could be a long season on the bench for the 23-year-old guard.

Omri Casspi

Casspi was a lethal weapon last season as both a starter and a reserve for Karl. He shot an impressive 40.9 percent from 3-point land and 48.1 percent from the floor on his way to a career-best 11.8 points per game. Casspi is in a dogfight for minutes with Tolliver, Barnes and Temple. He missed time during camp with a hip issue and an illness, but he finished camp strong. When the Kings go small, expect Casspi and Barnes to form a strong forward combination.  

Matt Barnes

At 36, Barnes showed that he has plenty left in the tank last season playing for Joerger in Memphis. Not always the most popular player amongst the fans, the Sacramento-native plays a gritty brand of basketball that has earned him the trust of his coaches and teammates. He’s likely not going to log 28.8 minutes or average 10.0 points per game like last season, but he’s a quality veteran presence that can still run the floor like a gazelle and lock down forwards on defense.

Anthony Tolliver

The Kings shocked the NBA world a bit with their investment this summer in the 31-year-old Tolliver. Another team-first guy, Tolliver can hit the open 3-ball, play defense and shock you with a sneaky block here and there. Joerger loves veterans and this is one handpicked by new assistant GM Ken Catanella. Can he bring the “Tolliver Effect” to Sacramento?

Willie Cauley-Stein

It’s not that Cauley-Stein has fallen out of favor in Sacramento, but he’s up against some serious veteran contenders for minutes this season. The lanky defensive stopper still looks slightly uncomfortable in the Kings’ new system. He will get his bearings eventually and make a nice addition to Joerger’s small ball lineups. Cauley-Stein has never been asked to run a high post or hit a 20-foot jumper in his young career. He’ll get minutes, but how many will depend on quickly he can acclimate to the new offensive and defensive schemes.

The Rest

Skal Labissiere

The rookie out of Kentucky has been the talk of camp. He has tremendous length and athleticism, but he’ll need time to develop. Labissiere will see time in Reno with the Bighorns, but expect the Kings to keep him around the team so their staff can develop this top tier talent.

Georgios Papagiannis

Another young big that needs development time in Reno, Papa G has trimmed down considerably since we first saw him walk in the door. The Kings will be patient in bringing the 7-foot-1 center along. He is a giant with a soft touch both inside and outside. If he can learn the high-post system and continue to show improvement in his physique, the Kings might be onto something in year two and three.

Malachi Richardson

Lost in a numbers game at the wing, Richardson will commute back and forth from Reno with his fellow rookie class. The smooth shooting guard/forward has great size and length to play the two, but his shot selection and accuracy must improve to make an impact at the NBA level. Coaches rave about his demeanor and he routinely beats veterans in 3-point shootouts after practice.