We still haven’t heard any word from the NFL on player punishments in the Saints’ bounty program. But we’ve got a pretty big clue as to how severe they might be.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that evidence is clear that players embraced the bounty program.
"I don't think they are absolved from responsibility," Goodell said.
In other words, Goodell already is playing offense against what figured to be the players’ defense -- that they simply were following orders from coaches.
I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that we can expect at least some suspensions whenever Goodell and the NFL decide to announce sanctions. The league has said that 22 to 27 players participated in the bounty program over a three-year period. Obviously, some of those players no longer are with the Saints. But the Saints are closing in on the NFL draft and they still don’t know which of their players might not be able to play for at least part of the 2012 season.
Goodell said discipline will be announced soon, but didn’t indicate if that means before the draft. That leaves a lot of questions for the Saints.
How many players will be suspended? And for how long? We don’t know yet, but I think Goodell tipped his hand that we will at least see some suspensions and all the players aren’t going to get out of this one simply by paying fines.
It's been a hectic offseason in New Orleans, with coaches and general manager Mickey Loomis getting hit with suspensions. Brace yourself for more, whenever Goodell announces the next batch of discipline.