NFL hammers Saints, Gregg Williams

The NFL took the bounty program run for three seasons in New Orleans seriously.

And the Saints franchise will pay dearly.

Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator who masterminded the operation, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. He can apply for reinstatement after one year. That means the St. Louis Rams will need a new coordinator this season.

The Saints are reeling. Sean Payton, the head coach, has been suspended for the entire season. Mickey Loomis, the general manager, has been suspended for eight games. The Saints will lose their second-round draft pick this year and in 2013. The club has been fined $500,000. Additionally, linebackers coach Joe Vitt, who is also an assistant head coach, has been suspended for six games.

The NFL announced March 2 that an investigation revealed the Saints had a program that rewarded defensive players for big hits on opponents. Williams apologized for his role in the system and Payton and Loomis issued a joint statement admitting their remorse.

Now, the Saints will have to assess the situation and determine what direction they will need to go in 2012.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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