Saints coach, GM take blame for the bounty scandal

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Saints coach, GM take blame for the bounty scandal

From Comcast SportsNet
Almost a week after the NFL pointed to them for failing to stop a bounty program involving some two dozen Saints players, coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that "happened under our watch." "These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game," Payton and Loomis added. "Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans," Payton and Loomis said in a joint statement Tuesday. Payton and Loomis also said New Orleans owner Tom Benson "had nothing to do" with the bounty pool. "We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility," they said. The league's investigation, released last Friday, said the bounty program was funded primarily by players for the past three seasons and was overseen by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He admitted to running the program and apologized within hours after the report surfaced. The NFL said it confirmed Benson was unaware of the program, and that he told Loomis to stop it immediately, but that Loomis did not. The league also said Payton, though not directly involved, was aware of the bounty pool, but did nothing to stop it. Williams now is defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. He met with NFL security officials on Monday as part of the league's ongoing investigation. Once it concludes -- the league says there is no timetable -- Roger Goodell likely will hand out the stiffest penalties of his 5 years as commissioner. Goodell has frequently taken a hard line on any action that threatens player safety. He suspended Detroit's Ndamukong Suh for two games for stomping on an opponent last season; banned Pittsburgh's James Harrison for one game after a series of flagrant hits that culminated in a collision with Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy's helmet; and has ramped up the amount of fines for what the league terms "egregious hits." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said before handing out any penalties, Goodell will review the information with his staff and consult with others, including the union and player leaders. The players' union has not seen a full report of the investigation, so it can't be certain if Goodell will levy punishment under the on-field discipline or the personal conduct policy. There's a major distinction, because players can appeal on-field punishment to independent arbitrators Art Shell and Ted Cottrell. Appeals under the personal conduct policy are heard by Goodell and other league officials. "The commissioner has broad authority to impose discipline for violation of league rules. We're not going to put it in a category right now," Aiello said. The NFL hasn't cited specific players, but fines and suspensions are probable for those found to have participated in the bounty program. "We take this issue seriously and we continue to look into it," union spokesman George Atallah said. Goodell fined the New England Patriots 250,000 and their coach, Bill Belichick, 500,000 for the Spygate scandal in 2007, when the team was caught illegally videotaping the Jets' sideline. New England also was stripped of a first-round draft pick. That violation pales in comparison to a bounty of up to 50,000 over the last three seasons that rewarded players for knocking targeted opponents out of games. The Saints can expect heavier sanctions than those given the Patriots, with suspensions likely for Loomis and Payton and a seven-figure fine for the organization. "I don't think there can be a limited focus -- if the league only is looking to penalize players and coaches," said George Martin, executive director of NFL Alumni and a former player, adding: "It is kind of shocking it still goes on in this time and age. "The organization has to take responsibility for it because it took place under their jurisdiction," he said. "The league needs to do whatever it takes in the way of discipline to make sure this is stemmed." John Lynch, an outstanding safety for 16 seasons, once was fined 75,000 for a hit on Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark. Lynch was one of the hardest and surest tacklers in the NFL. He is just as sure that Goodell will hand out hefty punishments. "I would expect this to be pretty severe and harsh because of the direction the commissioner has taken in making player safety if not his top initiative, then one of them," Lynch said. "If this is true, as blatant as this is, and to have a coach out there saying, You knock this guy out of the game. Get him taken off on a cart. Here is the monetary reward,' you need a severe and harsh punishment." That coach has been identified by the league as Williams, who could face a year's suspension and a six-figure fine. Maybe more. The Rams would not say Tuesday what duties Williams currently is performing. "Coach Williams has shown contrition for his actions and continues to cooperate with the NFL in this investigation," Rams GM Kevin Demoff told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Out of respect for the NFL's ongoing process, we will refrain from commenting until the league has come to a final decision on all aspects of this matter." Williams could turn to the NFL Coaches Association for help. Its executive director, David Cornwell, was concerned about individual coaches being singled out. "As this matter unfolds," Cornwell said, "I will work with our executive committee to protect the interests of individual coaches without compromising the NFLCA's fundamental belief that fair play and sportsmanship begins with the men who teach the game."

Dodgers designate Sergio Romo for assignment

Dodgers designate Sergio Romo for assignment

The Dodgers made a move on Thursday that will certainly interest Giants fans.

Los Angeles designated Sergio Romo for assignment.

Over 30 appearances this season, Romo is 1-1 with a 6.12 ERA.

[PAVLOVIC: Why are the Giants reportedly gambling on a Pablo Sandoval reunion?]

He hasn't taken the mound since July 8.

Against the Giants this year:

- April 24: Allowed one hit and one walk in one inning
- April 25: Allowed two earned runs in 0.1 innings 
- May 2: A perfect 1-2-3 inning
- May 17: Allowed one run in one inning

Romo spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Orange and Black.

From 2008 to 2016, he went 32-26 with a 2.58 ERA and 84 saves over 515 appearances.

He won three World Series rings with the Giants.

Lillard: If Blazers get Carmelo and then run into Warriors during playoffs...

Lillard: If Blazers get Carmelo and then run into Warriors during playoffs...

Who will Carmelo Anthony play for next season?

The Knicks? Rockets? Cavs? Blazers?

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are hoping Carmelo ends up in Portland.

"I spoke to him," Lillard told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. "Because, obviously, he makes us a better team. Obviously with that being out there and that being a real possibility, I don't see why I wouldn't reach out to him and let him know that the interest is mutual if he's interested in us."

[REWIND: McCollum's message to those who think Warriors are bad for the NBA]

What was his reaction?

"I ain't gonna share all that," Lillard said. "We had a conversation about it because it's something that we need to talk about, so he knew that it wasn't just the team -- but it was myself and C.J. -- would love to have him here. So I reached out to him."

How would he help the Blazers?

"He's Carmelo Anthony," Lillard responded. "You add another guy that can go out there and score 50 ... over the last decade, he's been one of the best players in the league. Playing against him, you know he's a cerebral player. He's smart...

"I can only imagine what it would be like having him iso'ing on one side, and C.J. in a corner, and me on the opposite wing and Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic) ... I can only imagine how hard it would be to guard us when it's already hard to guard us.

"We can compete with anybody in the West, but I think when you get to those teams like Golden State, if we happen to run into them in a playoff situation now -- we getting in the paint, and if they want to help off someone like Melo ... good luck."

The Warriors beat the Blazers in five games in the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals and swept them in the opening round of the 2017 playoffs.

According to McCollum, the Blazers would definitely have homecourt in the first round of the playoffs should Carmelo head to the Pacific Northwest.

"Very talented player. And I think if we get him -- when we get him -- speak it into existence ... I think Top 3 in the West, easy," McCollum declared. "I think he's interested."

Carmelo is reportedly pushing for a trade to the Rockets...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller