When Jonathan Vilma put $10,000 cash on the table and offered it as a reward to any of his teammates who could knock Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship game in early 2010, he had no idea that he would be costing himself $5.5 million. That was the punishment handed down by Roger Goodell today. Vilma has been suspended for the season, without pay.
And I'm all for it. Vilma offered a financial incentive (which is a violation of the salary cap) to injure a player. Anyone who thinks the punishment is too harsh must take into consideration those two points. The Saints were violating the cap. And they were encouraging their players to injure other players. I don't know if you've noticed, but the NFL has been trying to clamp down on injuries, especially to QBs.
Oh, and then the Saints repeatedly lied about it, and continued to do it even while under investigation. Like a burglar continuing to rob a house even after the police show up.
And maybe this took place with other teams. I doubt the Saints were the only team that had such a program. It won't happen anymore, though, after what happened to Sean Payton and now these four players.
Anthony Hargrove was suspended for 8 games. Probably due to his obstructing the investigation and initially lying to the NFL.
Will Smith was suspended for 4 games (and sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle in California). He reportedly helped former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams set up the bounty program.
Scott Fujita, who is now on the Browns, was suspended for 3 games.
What the Saints did was wrong. And even if other teams did it, that's a lame excuse. If you got pulled over by a State Trooper would you say to him "You know, I'm not the only one speeding on 128 right now." Yeah, good luck getting out of that ticket.
No head coach will promote or allow a bounty program after what happened to Payton.
And now, no player will try to set up such a program on their own, or even participate, after what happened to these four guys. The risk has become greater than the reward. Thanks to Roger Goodell.