School closings and delays

NFL Hands Down Harsh Punishments for Saints’ Bounty Program

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By Michael Martinez, CNN

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season and the team was fined $500,000 for operating a bounty program against opponents, under sweeping discipline announced by the NFL on Wednesday.

Under the program, the team paid bonuses for knocking opposing players out of a game.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately, the league said. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will review Williams’ status at the season and whether to reinstate him, the league said.

The team will also forfeit its second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season, the NFL said.

Saints Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt was suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season, the leagues said.

One sports analyst, Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, said the discipline is “historic.”