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Where Were You: Saints Penalized For "Bounty" Program

On March 21, 2012, the Saints fell victim to the stiffest penalties ever handed out by the NFL. Where were you for one of the darkest days in Saints history?

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The 2012 New Orleans Saints campaign was a cataclysmic disaster of the highest order.  The season itself was dead-on-arrival for the Saints long before it even started, in fact, the Saints' 2012 season was condemned to a long suffering death a short three months after their fantastic 2011 season concluded.  The entire ordeal seemingly came out of nowhere and escalated quickly.  The fans hardly had time to catch their breath before judgement was passed on the franchise, and their fans, by proxy.

The story itself has been rehashed far too many times over the years since judgment was passed to detail it here.  The "Bounty Scandal of 2012" has come back into the public consciousness this week, following the penalties handed down, once again, by Roger Goodell and the NFL against the New England Patriots regarding Tom Brady's under-inflation of game balls.

To address the key points of the Saints' 2012 penalization, the franchise was deemed by the NFL to have instituted and carried out a pay-for-performance program where a pool of cash was created as incentive for Saints defensive players to carry out "conduct that was detrimental to player safety".  The following penalties were handed out to the Saints after a league investigation:

-Sean Payton (Head Coach) was suspended for the entire 2012 season

-Mickey Loomis (General Manager) was suspended for the first half on the 2012 season

-Joe Vitt (Asst Head Coach/Interim Head Coach) was suspended for the first 6 games of the 2012 season

-2012 & 2013 second-round draft picks were vacated

-Franchise was fined $500,000

-Former defensive coordinator/"Bounty Mastermind" Gregg Williams was suspended from the league indefinitely

Months later, four defensive players who played with the Saints from 2009-2011 faced multi-game suspensions, most notably, Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma, who was suspended for the entire 2012 season.

These sanctions and suspensions, coupled with a historically horrific defense, crippled the 2012 Saints season, but it all started with these events, on this bleak day in Saints history.

I'll start the conversation

It's hard to forget where you were when you heard the severity of the penalties handed out by Roger Goodell that fateful day.  I had tried to keep an ear out on sports radio ever since the "bounty" allegations had come to light earlier that month.  There was an ever-present sense that things could go bad for the Saints once the NFL had come to a decision on the matter, yet the severity of the penalties still came as a shock.

I was at work when I heard the penalties come down on ESPN Radio.  I was floored by the severity of the penalties and honestly thought I misheard them.  I immediately searched online and verified the disheartening news.  I was already annoyed that the Saints would even find themselves in this type of position to begin with.  It really didn't register at first, and it all took a long time to settle in.  The penalties were then, and still resonate now, as outlandish and spiteful.  They made Goodell appear reactive and petulant.  The Saints were clearly at fault in many of their actions, and Sean Payton did little in helping his cause by failing to recognize the NFL Commissioner's need for his authoritah authority to be respected above all else.

Needless to say, like most of you all, I had to "answer for the Saints' crimes" by anyone and everyone who was aware that I was a steadfast supporter of the team.  That of course was a theme that ran through the entire season, and even beyond in some cases, that is until even the most judgmental folks out there started to see the gaping cracks in Goodell's self-serving facade.  That day though, serves as a reminder of one of the absolute lowest points in Saints history.

Personally, the one silver lining in that entire debacle is that it was the "bounty outrage" that compelled me to answer Dave's Help Wanted post and submit a sample post to this awesome community.  Shortly thereafter, I joined the staff and have enjoyed the opportunity to share in the ups-and-downs of Saints football over the last three seasons with all of you.


Now tell us your experience, memories, and impressions from that unbelievable day in Saints history.  Where were you, Who Dat Nation?