Saints Punishment: 'Strong And Lasting Message Must Be Sent', Roger Goodell Says

When the news of the New Orleans Saints bounty program over the last three seasons came out a few weeks ago, many figured the NFL would come down especially hard on those involved considering NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's tenure has been highlighted by his focus on player safety.

The NFL announced the Saints punishment on Wednesday afternoon and, even though we expected big punishments, it's still stunning. Read about all the punishments here but the summary: Saints head coach Sean Payton is suspended for a year, GM Mickey Loomis is out for half a season and the Saints have been stripped of their next two second round picks, among other fines and punishments for assistant coaches.

Goodell explained the motivation behind the harsh punishments.

"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."

The Saints, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has been suspended indefinitely, didn't immediately confess to any wrong doing when the NFL was investigating, which may have led to a harsher punishment.

Check out all the details of the investigation here. Visit SB Nation's Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles.

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