ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — The National Football League made the announcement of punishments for the New Orleans Saints bounty program on Wednesday morning suspending new St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, at least for the entire 2012 season. While most of the consequences were directed at the Saints because of the three-year program, the Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher will have to make an adjustment to the coaching staff.
Wednesday afternoon at Rams Park, head coach Jeff Fisher addressed the media. Asked if we would need to bring in a new defensive coordinator to replace Williams, Fisher answered:
Revealed on March 2, the NFL reported that between 22 and 27 New Orleans Saints players had a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opponents, including quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. Administered by Gregg Williams with the knowledge of head coach Sean Payton, ‘knockouts’ were worth $1,500 and ‘cart-offs’ $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.
Williams’ suspension begins immediately removing him from the Rams staff until further notice. The NFL, mainly commissioner Roger Goodell, has been so serious about the bounty program scandal that Williams may potentially never coach again, but the league has not imposed any such sanction.
Coach Fisher was asked what Williams was possibly thinking as the two have had a close, long relationship in football:
A native of Excelsior Springs, Missouri plus a graduate from Truman State University, Gregg Williams has been a NFL coach since 1990 when he became the Special Teams coach of the Houston Oilers under then defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan. He first became a defensive coordinator in 1997 with the Tennessee Titans working under Rams current head coach Jeff Fisher. Since then, Williams has been either a defensive coordinator or head coach in the league making stops with the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and then the Saints.
Williams was hired by Fisher and the Rams in mid-January. Though investigations by the NFL were already in progress for a second time on the troubling bounty matter, the Fisher and the organization were confident this would not be an issue:
Saints head coach Sean Payton has been given a season-long suspension without pay effective on April 1 for his knowledge of the bounty program, plus deception with NFL investigators. The Saints had a taste of what life is like a without Payton a season ago when he had a broken leg unable to be on the sidelines during games. Yet, 2012 will be the first season for New Orleans without Payton, who has a 62-34 record since 2006 including a world championship winning Super Bowl XLIV.
The Saints, who also have to forfeit second-round picks in 2012 & 2013 plus have been fined $500,000, may coincidentally have to turn to the Rams’ most recent head coach in Steve Spagnuolo. He was hired as the defensive coordinator in New Orleans after being let go by the Rams after only 8 wins over three seasons in St. Louis.
Another former Rams coach connection with the scandal is former interim head coach Joe Vitt, who took over for Scott Linehan in the 2005-06 season. With the Saints since 2006 serving as Sean Payton’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach, Vitt got a 6-game suspension for his role in the program and reportedly deceiving investigators as well.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will sit out the first 8 games of the 2012 season. However, Loomis’ suspension does not begin until September.
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