Jimmy Johnson: New Orleans Saints' Bountygate Punishment is "Wrong!"

By Jeric Griffin

The New Orleans Saints received a harsh punishment from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday for the team’s bounty program during the past three seasons, including their Super Bowl run in 2009. Bountygate cost the Saints dearly as head coach Sean Payton will be suspended for the 2012 NFL season among other punishments. Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson quickly tweeted his thoughts on the punishment after it was announced. To put it briefly, he’s not happy.

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Payton’s one-year suspension will begin on April 1, but his penalty is just the beginning. The Saints’ organization has been fined $500,000 and was forced to forfeit their second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis has also been suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season without pay.

St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams held the same job with the Saints from 2009-2011 and he’s been suspended indefinitely. His suspension is effective immediately and Goodell will review Williams’ case following the 2012 season. Finally, Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt has also been suspended without pay for the first six games of the upcoming season.

“Let me be clear,” Goodell said. “There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so.”

Johnson was a part of what is now known as the “Bounty Bowl.” This was a game played between the Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1989, Johnson’s first season as the Cowboys’ head coach. On Thanksgiving at Texas Stadium, Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan was accused of placing a $200 bounty on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas, who was cut by the Eagles earlier that season.

Two weeks later, the Cowboys played the Eagles in Philadelphia and the Eagles’ fans at covered Veterans Stadium with wanted posters and threw everything they could find, including the heavy snow that fell the night before, at Cowboys players and coaches, but especially Johnson.

According to older players and coaches like Johnson, bounties were common in the NFL years ago and no one was ever caught in the act. If they were, it wasn’t publicized, so it’s no surprise Johnson doesn’t agree with the punishment placed on the Saints.

Sports Illustrated

recently reported evidence that the Saints had a $10,000 on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship game by New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma. However, then-Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove denies his notorious late hit on Favre in that game was for a bounty.

Johnson is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history and is responsible for all three Super Bowl wins by the Cowboys in the 1990s, regardless of what Jerry Jones or Barry Switzer says. Still, his opinion about the Saints’ Bountygate is a biased one. The Saints deserve every bit of the punishment they received and Goodell should be commended for putting the hammer down early on this type of behavior in the NFL.

There’s a huge difference between “old school” football and intentionally trying to hurt someone. There is no place for that in the NFL and fans who want it didn’t support the XFL during its brief, pathetic existence. The Saints deserve what was handed to them and hopefully the rest of the league will heed their punishment, regardless of what Johnson says.

Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin or on Facebook at Jeric Griffin – Rant Sports

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