But send a message that if you care about your livelihood, you don’t pay players extra money to hurt other players.
Next to go should be Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. The NFL said Loomis denied any knowledge of the bounty program when first questioned in 2010 and said if he found it was happening he would put an end to it. The league says Loomis did nothing then and did nothing again earlier this year when Saints owner Tom Benson told him to make sure the payments were stopped.
And then there’s Sean Payton. The coach who led the Saints to their Super Bowl win. The coach the NFL says knew what was going on when the injury pot peaked at $50,000 or more during the 2009 playoff run to the championship game.
The coach who himself was carted off the field in an ironic twist last season after being accidentally leveled on the sidelines by one of his own players.
Give him the same year off that Loomis gets. Let him use the time to think about the difference between hitting hard and hitting to hurt.
Goodell surely didn’t want this scandal, not after the NFL came off a triumphant season with labor peace and television contracts wrapped up for much of the next decade. He would have much preferred to bask in the glow of a thrilling Super Bowl and watch proudly as NFL draft talk dominated the offseason.
But it has given him the perfect opportunity to take a stand, a great chance to show he’s serious about protecting players. He can be tough, and he should be tough.
Send the message that hitting to hurt no longer pays.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
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