Roger Stokoe Goodell (born February 19, 1959) is an American businessman who is currently the Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). On August 8, 2006, Goodell was chosen to succeed retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue. He was chosen for the position over four finalists; he won a close vote on the fifth ballot before being unanimously approved by acclamation of the owners. He officially began his tenure on September 1, 2006, just prior to the beginning of the 2006 NFL season. On December 6, 2017, the NFL announced that Goodell signed a new contract that will start in 2019. Commentators have described him as "the most powerful man in sports."
Goodell speaking at the United States Military Academy in August 2012
|Commissioner of the National Football League|
|Assumed office |
September 1, 2006
|Preceded by||Paul Tagliabue|
Roger Stokoe Goodell
February 19, 1959
Jamestown, New York, U.S.
Jane Skinner (m. 1997)
|Relations||Jack Kenny (brother-in-law)|
Andy Goodell (cousin)
Jean (Rice) Goodell
|Alma mater||Washington & Jefferson College|
Goodell was born in Jamestown, New York on February 19, 1959, to United States Senator Charles Ellsworth Goodell of New York, and Jean (Rice) Goodell of Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Bronxville High School where, as a three-sport star in football, basketball, and baseball, he captained all three teams as a senior and was named the school's athlete of the year. Injuries kept him from playing college football. Goodell is a 1981 graduate of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania with a degree in economics.
Goodell began his NFL career in 1982 as an administrative intern in the league office in New York under then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The position was secured through a letter-writing campaign to the league office and each of its then 28 teams. In 1983, he joined the New York Jets as an intern, but returned to the league office in 1984 as an assistant in the public relations department.
In 1987, Goodell was appointed assistant to the president of the American Football Conference, Lamar Hunt, and under the tutelage of Commissioner Paul Tagliabue filled a variety of football and business operations roles, culminating with his appointment as the NFL's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in December 2001. As the NFL's COO, Goodell took responsibility for the league's football operations and officiating, as well as supervised league business functions. He headed NFL Ventures, which oversees the league's business units, including media properties, marketing and sales, stadium development, and strategic planning.
Goodell was heavily involved in the negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA and NFL owners during the summer of 2011. He also played an extensive role in league expansion, realignment, and stadium development, including the launch of the NFL Network and securing new television agreements.
When Tagliabue retired, Goodell was one of the candidates in contention for the position. In the second and third ballots, Goodell and Gregg Levy were the only candidates to receive votes (Goodell 17, Levy 14). Goodell increased his lead to 21–10 after the fourth ballot, falling one vote shy of election, but on the fifth round of voting two owners swung their votes to him to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority (Goodell 23, Levy 8). The Oakland Raiders abstained from the voting in each round.
On August 8, 2006, Goodell was chosen to succeed Tagliabue; he assumed office on September 1, the date Tagliabue was required to step down.
Goodell believes his primary responsibility as commissioner is protecting the integrity of the game and making it safer—"protecting the shield", as he puts it (a reference to the NFL's shield logo). However, some of his actions in this regard have been met with criticism.
In 2014, Goodell was awarded the third highest honor within the Department of the Army Civilian Awards scheme, the Outstanding Civilian Service Award, for substantial contributions to the US Army community while serving as the NFL commissioner.
The spring league NFL Europe, founded in 1995 and since 2004 with five of six teams based in Germany, was shut down by Goodell after the 2007 season. The NFL International Series began in October 2007 with regular season games in London.
In April 2007, following a year of significant scandal surrounding some NFL players' actions off the field, Goodell announced a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy. Tennessee Titans cornerback Pacman Jones and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry were the first two players to be suspended under the new policy, and Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tank Johnson was suspended months later because of his conduct involving weapon ownership and drunk driving. On August 31, 2007, Goodell suspended Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson for five games and fined him US$100,000, and suspended New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison for four games without pay, after they admitted the use of banned substances for medical purposes and to accelerate healing, respectively. The league indicated to Wilson that his more severe penalty was because they held "people in authority in higher regard than people on the field." Goodell has also imposed suspensions on the following players for conduct:
|Date(s) suspended||Suspension length||Name||Position||Team at the time of suspension|
|April 10, 2007||Entire 2007 season||Adam "Pacman" Jones||Cornerback||Tennessee Titans|
|First 8 games of 2007 season||Chris Henry||Wide receiver||Cincinnati Bengals|
|June 4, 2007||First 8 games of 2007 season||Terry "Tank" Johnson||Defensive tackle||Chicago Bears|
|August 24, 2007 – July 27, 2009||Suspended for the first two regular season games in the 2009 season and could play by week three of the season. He can play the final two pre-season games.||Michael Vick||Quarterback||Atlanta Falcons|
|October 14, 2008||Indefinite
(ultimately was the minimum of 4 games)
|Adam "Pacman" Jones||Cornerback||Dallas Cowboys|
|August 13, 2009||Entire 2009 Season||Donté Stallworth||Wide Receiver||Cleveland Browns|
|April 21, 2010||First 6 games of 2010 season (later changed to 4 games due to continuous following of the NFL personal conduct guidelines)||Ben Roethlisberger||Quarterback||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|November 29 – December 11, 2011||Weeks 13 and 14 of 2011 season||Ndamukong Suh||Defensive tackle||Detroit Lions|
|September 7, 2014 – November 2014||First two weeks of 2014 season plus ten additional weeks (originally two games, then changed to Indefinite following release of the video of the assault which was vacated after 12 weeks)||Ray Rice||Running back||Baltimore Ravens|
In addition to suspensions, Goodell has also fined players for on-field misconduct. For example, on October 19, 2010, the NFL handed out fines to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, and New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather after they were involved in controversial hits the previous Sunday. Goodell released a memo to every team in the league stating that "It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and of playing within the rules." The NFL's reaction to the hits was itself controversial and Goodell came under criticism from players like Troy Polamalu, who felt he had assumed too much control and power over punishment towards players and was making wrong decisions.
Two national political advocacy groups, CREDO and UltraViolet have submitted a petition with over 100,000 signatures calling on Goodell and the NFL to "address its domestic violence problem." This came after Ray Rice was suspended for two games when he was accused of assaulting his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, who is now his wife.
On September 13, 2007, Goodell disciplined the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick after New England attempted to videotape the defensive signals of the New York Jets from an illegal position on September 9. In the aftermath, Belichick was fined the league maximum of $500,000. The Patriots themselves were fined $250,000 and had to forfeit a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Goodell came down hard on the Patriots because he felt Belichick's authority over football operations (Belichick is effectively the Patriots' general manager as well as head coach) was such that his decisions were "properly attributed" to the Patriots as well. Goodell said he considered suspending Belichick, but decided against it because he felt fining them and stripping them of a draft pick were "more effective" than a suspension.
Outside of player conduct, Goodell is also known for his work in the 2011 NFL lockout. Prior to the start of the 2011 NFL season, Goodell worked with NFL owners and the NFLPA on settling the NFL lockout which ran from March 11 to August 5. During the lockout, at the request of some NFL teams, he held conference calls with season ticket holders where he discussed the collective bargaining agreement and conducted question-and-answer sessions on various NFL topics.
In March 2012, Goodell revealed evidence that players and coaches on the New Orleans Saints had instituted a bounty program in which Saints defensive players were paid bonuses for deliberately knocking opposing players out of games. Then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams administered the program, and as many as 27 Saints defensive players were involved. Later that month, Goodell handed down some of the harshest penalties in NFL history. He suspended Williams, who had left to become defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, indefinitely (Williams would later be reinstated at the start of the 2013 season). Goodell also suspended head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. Additionally, the Saints themselves were fined a league maximum $500,000 and had to forfeit their second round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. Goodell was particularly upset that those involved in the program lied about it during two separate league investigations of the program. Sanctions for players were not handed down at the time, and Goodell stated he would refrain from penalizing players until the NFLPA completed its investigation of the affair.
By June 2012, the league and the NFL Referees Association had not yet come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, thus failing to resolve a labor dispute. Accordingly, the NFL locked out the regular NFL game officials, and opened the 2012 season with replacement referees.
The replacement officials consisted of low-level college and high school officials. None were Division I college referees at the time since the league wanted to protect them from union backlash and let them continue working their scheduled games during the concurrent college football season. In addition, many of the top Division I conferences barred their officials from becoming replacements anyway because they employed current and former NFL referees as officiating supervisors.
Despite Goodell stating during the preseason that he believed that the replacement officials will "do a credible job", the inexperience of the replacement referees generated criticism by writers and players. Referencing Goodell's aforementioned other actions as commissioner, the NFLPA issued a letter after Week 2 to the owners to end the dispute, saying:
It is lost on us as to how you allow a Commissioner to cavalierly issue suspensions and fines in the name of player health and safety yet permit the wholesale removal of the officials that you trained and entrusted to maintain that very health and safety. It has been reported that the two sides are apart by approximately $60,000 per team. We note that your Commissioner has fined an individual player as much in the name of "safety." Your actions are looking more and more like simple greed. As players, we see this game as more than the "product" you reference at times. You cannot simply switch to a group of cheaper officials and fulfill your legal, moral, and duty obligations to us and our fans. You need to end the lockout and bring back the officials immediately.
Under Goodell's leadership, on August 30, 2013, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with the former NFL players over head injuries. The settlement created a $675 million compensation fund from which former NFL players can collect from depending on the extent of their conditions. Severe conditions such as Lou Gehrig's disease and postmortem diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy would be entitled to payouts as high as $5 million. From the remainder of the settlement, $75 million would be used for medical exams, and $10 million would be used for research and education. However, in January, 2014, U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody refused to accept the agreed settlement because "the money wouldn't adequately compensate the nearly 20,000 men not named in the suit". In 2014, the cap was removed from the amount.
After the NFL suspended New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four games for his alleged awareness of team employees deflating footballs, as indicated in the Wells Report, the NFLPA filed an appeal of his suspension on May 14, 2015. Despite their request for a neutral third party arbitrator, the NFL announced that Goodell would preside over Brady's appeal hearing, which he did on June 23.
Goodell announced his upholding of the suspension on July 28, citing the destruction of Brady's cell phone as critical evidence that Brady "knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards in support of a scheme by which, with Mr. Jastremski's support, Mr. McNally tampered with the game balls." The same day, the NFL filed papers in Manhattan federal court to confirm Goodell's upholding of the suspension. A day after the suspension was upheld, Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft made statements criticizing the league, with Brady stating that he was never "made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline."
On August 4, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman ordered the transcript from Brady's appeal hearing released to the public. Writers quickly spotted contradictions between Goodell's statement and Brady's testimony, notably regarding increased phone conversations between Brady and team staffer John Jastremski in the weeks between the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLIX. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports pointed out that while Goodell had stated in upholding the suspension that Brady claimed he only spoke with Jastremski about football preparations for the Super Bowl, which would be suspicious if correct due to the increase in communication, Brady had testified in the hearing that other topics, including the alleged deflation, were discussed. The NFL was also criticized for a conflict of interest at the hearing, as one of the lawyers who worked on the Wells Report, Lorin Reisner, cross-examined Brady during the hearing on behalf of the league; Ted Wells' independence in his investigation, as repeatedly asserted by the league, was also put to question, as he testified that NFL counsel Jeff Pash reviewed the report.
Berman vacated Brady's suspension on September 3, citing a lack of fair due process. Analysts criticized Goodell for his violation of due process in order to uphold an extreme punishment and his arrogance in presuming he superseded the NFL's rules. Wetzel stated that "Judge Berman didn't declare Brady innocent on Thursday; he declared the NFL guilty of violating federal law in trying to declare Brady guilty." Michael Hurley of CBS Boston pointed out that the NFL's case was centered on Article 46 of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but Berman cited Article 46 as evidence that the league had used unfair process.
The NFL announced it would appeal Judge Berman's decision just hours after the suspension was overturned. The appeal hearing was held March 3, 2016. At the hearing the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit scrutinized Players Association lawyer Jeffrey L. Kessler more intensely than NFL lawyer Paul Clement, with Circuit Judge Denny Chin even stating that "the evidence of ball tampering is compelling, if not overwhelming."
On April 25, 2016, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension for the 2016 NFL season. Circuit Judge Barrington Daniels Parker, Jr., joined by Circuit Judge Chin, wrote that they could not "second-guess" the arbitration but were merely determining it "met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947". Circuit Chief Judge Robert Katzmann dissented, writing that the NFL's fines for using stickum were "highly analogous" and that here "the Commissioner was doling out his own brand of industrial justice." On May 21, 2015, The Washington Post published an article that Goodell's efforts to harshly suspend Brady were "part of a personal power play", supporting public claims that he was simply trying to demonstrate authority within the league.
On May 23, 2018, Commissioner Goodell and NFL owners approved a new policy requiring all players to stand during the national anthem or given the option to stay in the locker room during the national anthem. Any players from a NFL team who protested the anthem while on the field would become subject to discipline from the league. In addition, the teams as a whole would be subject to punishment and other forms of discipline from the NFL as a result.
In October 1997, Goodell married former Fox News Channel anchor Jane Skinner and together they have twin daughters, born in 2001. He has four brothers: among them are Tim, who is a Senior Vice President for the Hess Corporation, and Michael, married to Jack Kenny, creator of the short-lived NBC series The Book of Daniel. The Webster family on the show was loosely based on the Goodell family. Goodell's cousin Andy Goodell is a member of the New York State Assembly.
NFL refs now serve as supervisors of officials for five major conferences—the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and Conference USA—and they won't allow officials from those conferences to work NFL games. The source said that, in solidarity with the NFL zebras, supervisors in other FBS conferences won't allow their officials to work NFL games either
The 2012 Packers–Seahawks officiating controversy, sometimes referred to as the Fail Mary or Inaccurate Reception, arose during the final play of an American football game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL) that occurred on September 24, 2012 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. In a nationally televised game on ESPN's Monday Night Football, the Seahawks defeated the Packers, 14–12 in controversial fashion.
On the final play of the tightly-contested game, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone intended for wide receiver Golden Tate. Both Tate and Packers defender M. D. Jennings got their hands on the ball while both players were still in the air and attempting to gain possession. The two officials near the play initially gave separate signals of touchdown and touchback, before ruling the players had simultaneous possession, resulting in a Seahawks game-winning touchdown. Prior to the catch, Tate shoved Packers cornerback Sam Shields with both hands, which the NFL later acknowledged should have drawn an offensive pass interference penalty that would have negated the touchdown and resulted in a Packers victory. The lack of a pass interference penalty and the ruling of a touchdown via simultaneous catch were widely questioned in the aftermath of the game, drawing comments from the game's announcers, NFL players, and the media. The NFL subsequently released a statement defending the touchdown ruling.
The controversial ending followed weeks of criticism regarding the quality of officiating by replacement officials employed by the NFL during the 2012 NFL referee lockout. Two days after the game, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association announced they had reached an agreement to end the lockout. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the negative attention the game drew to the referee situation was an impetus for ending the labor dispute.Andy Goodell
Andrew W. Goodell (born December 1, 1954) is an American politician who was elected to the New York State Assembly in a 2010. He is a Republican. Previously, Goodell was the County Executive of Chautauqua County, New York. Goodell represents the 150th Assembly District, which is numerically the last, and geographically the westernmost, of the 150 districts in the Assembly and, as of the 2012 redistricting, aligns with the boundaries of Chautauqua County.Charles Goodell
Charles Ellsworth Goodell Jr. (March 16, 1926 – January 21, 1987) was an American U.S. Representative and a Senator from New York. In both cases he came into office following the deaths of his predecessors, first in a special election and second as a temporary appointee.
He was elected to four terms in Congress after winning his first race in 1960. He resigned on September 9, 1968, to accept an appointment by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to fill the vacancy caused by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Having earned the support of both the Republican and Liberal parties in 1970, he lost in a three-way race to Conservative Party candidate James L. Buckley, having split the liberal vote with Democratic Party candidate Richard Ottinger.
Goodell was the father of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.Deflategate
Deflategate was a National Football League (NFL) controversy involving the allegation that Tom Brady ordered the deliberate deflating of footballs used in the New England Patriots victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game of the 2014–15 NFL playoffs. The controversy resulted in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being suspended for four games and the team being fined $1 million and losing two draft picks.For his alleged part in the scandal, Tom Brady was originally suspended by the league for four games of the 2015 regular season, which was upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an internal appeal. The matter moved to federal court, where Judge Richard M. Berman vacated Goodell's four-game suspension of Brady, allowing Brady to resume his playing duties for the entirety of the 2015 season. However, following the conclusion of the season, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Brady's four-game suspension, which became effective for the 2016 regular season. After losing a request for a rehearing, Brady announced he would accept the suspension. The controversy remained a topic of discussion during the 2016 season, which concluded with the Patriots winning Super Bowl LI and Brady being named the MVP of the game. The season also saw the NFL change the procedure for monitoring football pressure.Draft Day
Draft Day is a 2014 American sports drama film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner. The premise revolves around the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns (Costner) deciding what to do after his team acquires the number one draft pick in the upcoming National Football League draft.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on April 7, 2014 and was released in the United States on April 11, 2014. It received mixed reviews from critics and was a box office failure grossing just $29 million against its $25 million budget.History of the NFL Commissioner
The Commissioner of the NFL is the chief executive of the National Football League (NFL). This article details the previous history of the chief NFL executive.Jack Kenny
Jack Kenny is an American writer, director, actor, and producer.Jane Skinner
Jane Skinner (born February 12, 1967) is a former daytime news anchor who worked for Fox News, co-hosting Happening Now with Jon Scott from 11 am to 1 pm ET. On June 24, 2010, she announced on-air her retirement from her daytime news anchor position at the end of her usual Happening Now segment, citing a desire to spend more time with her family. She is married to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.John Schnatter
John H. Schnatter (born November 22, 1961), nicknamed commercially as Papa John, is an American entrepreneur who founded Papa John's Pizza in 1984. Schnatter stepped down as CEO on January 1, 2018, after comments he made in November 2017 criticizing National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell for allegedly not doing anything about national anthem protests by football players. He was succeeded as CEO by President and COO Steve Ritchie, but remained chairman of the board of directors until July 2018. He then resigned as chairman of the board on July 11, 2018, when a scandal broke out over his use of a racial slur when trying to minimize the controversy over his NFL national anthem comments by alleging that Colonel Harland Sanders had used the slur and it had not affected his popularity. As of March 2019, he remains the owner of 31 percent of the company's shares.Jonathan Vilma
Jonathan Polynice Vilma (born April 16, 1982) is a former American football linebacker and current ESPN college football analyst. He played college football at the University of Miami, winning a National Championship in 2001. He would go on to be drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Vilma won a Super Bowl championship with the New Orleans Saints. In July 2016 he joined ESPN as a college football commentator and studio analyst. Vilma was elected as a member of the Orange Bowl Committee in 2018.National Football League controversies
The National Football League (NFL) is the premier professional American football league in the United States, and is also one of the major North American professional sports leagues. However, the NFL is not without its share of controversies. Throughout history, everything from questionable championship rulings to team relocation decisions to allegedly criminal behavior by players has been part of the conversation surrounding the NFL. Many of the recent controversies have surrounded NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, player conduct, and/or the league's role in player safety.National Football League player conduct policy
On April 10, 2007, the National Football League introduced a new conduct policy to help control off-field behavior by its players and preserve the league's public image. The policy, introduced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, implements a tougher, new personal-conduct policy, and under conditions of the previous policy handed down two of the harshest suspensions in NFL history for off-field misdeeds. Each player that has been suspended must reapply for reinstatement. The policy only applies to the player's personal lives and image in the public spotlight. The NFL conducts separate investigations for drug and alcohol abuse and performance enhancement.
As of December 2011, seven players have been suspended for an extended period by the NFL due to conduct off the field.National Football League team captains
In the National Football League, the team captain designation is a team-appointed position that designates certain players as leaders on and off the field. The captains program was implemented by the NFL Player Advisory Council established by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in conjunction with the NFL Players Association. Starting in 2007, the league began permitting teams to name up to six players as captains.Players who have been named a team captain typically have a "C" patch on their jerseys. There is a standard design used by all teams participating in the captaincy program. The patches are in team colors and are worn on the front left or right breast (depending on other patches, etc. worn by the specific team). The number of stars filled in on the patch represents the number of consecutive years that player has been named captain by a team. If they've been named captain for longer than four years, the "C" on the patch is gold. Some teams (e.g. Pittsburgh and New England) do not have this patch on their jerseys but still designate captains. In the case of the Green Bay Packers, they would use weekly captains during the regular season, but would switch to assigning captains whenever they qualify for the playoffs.
The New York Jets suspended designated team captains after an incident involving Santonio Holmes in a 2011 game. In the fourth quarter of the final game of the 2011 season against the Miami Dolphins, Holmes appeared to get into an argument with Jets offensive tackle Wayne Hunter while the team was huddling. As a result of the argument, Holmes was benched for the remainder of the game, and the Jets ended up losing the game, which resulted in the Jets missing the postseason for the first time in three years. His leadership qualities and credibility as a captain have since been questioned. In 2015, under new head coach Todd Bowles, the Jets resumed appointing captains weekly.
In 2018, Coach Todd Bowles has resumed permanent captains. These captains were introduced in Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season.
During special recognitions, the patch may be a different color; e.g., pink for breast cancer awareness; or camouflage for military service recognition.
Because of the nature of the game, most teams include their starting quarterbacks as an offensive captain. The starting quarterback has no other responsibility or authority on field. However, he may, depending on the league or individual team, have various informal duties, such as participation in pre-game ceremonies, the coin toss, the trophy presentation, or other events outside the game. Often compared to captains of other team sports, the starting quarterback is usually the de facto team leader and a well-respected player on and off the field, even before the NFL implemented the team captain's patch in 2007.Nels Olson
Nels Olson is Co-Leader and Vice Chairman of the Board and CEO Services Practice with Tierney Remick at Korn Ferry International . He has been appointed to the 2009 Directorship 100 and participated in more than 350 placements. Recent CEO and Board placements include the Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell; Boston Federal Reserve, NFIB, PhRMA, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, NewsCorp and Pepco Holdings.New Orleans Saints bounty scandal
The New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, widely dubbed "Bountygate," was an incident in which members of the New Orleans Saints team of the National Football League (NFL) were found guilty of paying out bonuses, or "bounties", for injuring opposing team players. The pool was alleged to have been in operation from 2009 (the year in which the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV) to 2011.
League commissioner Roger Goodell responded with some of the most severe sanctions in the league's 92-year history, and among the most severe punishments for in-game misconduct in North American professional sports history. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, though this would be overturned the following year. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season—the first time since Chuck Fairbanks in 1978 that a head coach had been suspended. General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended for the first six games of the 2012 season. The Saints organization was penalized with a $500,000 fine and forced to forfeit their second-round draft selections in 2012 and 2013. In May 2012, four current and former Saints players were suspended after being named as ringleaders in the scandal, with linebacker Jonathan Vilma also being suspended for the entire 2012 season. However, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned all sanctions against the players in December 2012 after finding that despite the players being "very much involved", the coaches and the Saints organization were primarily responsible for the scandal.Paul Tagliabue
Paul John Tagliabue (; born November 24, 1940) is a former Commissioner of the National Football League. He took the position in 1989 and was succeeded by Roger Goodell, who was elected to the position on August 8, 2006. Tagliabue's retirement took effect on September 1, 2006. He had previously served as a lawyer for the NFL. Tagliabue served as Chairman of Board of Directors of Georgetown University from 2008 to 2015.Rachel Nichols (journalist)
Rachel Michele Nichols (née Alexander, born October 18, 1973) is a sports journalist who is currently an ESPN television host, sports reporter, and anchor. She currently hosts The Jump, a daily NBA discussion/debate show, weekdays on ESPN. Nichols began hosting Unguarded with Rachel Nichols on CNN in October 2013. The program was changed from a regular series to occasional special in October 2014. Sports Illustrated has called Nichols "the country's most impactful and prominent female sports journalist." She earned widespread praise for her tough questioning of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal and for confronting boxer Floyd Mayweather on his history of domestic violence.Nichols previously worked for ESPN as a regular part of SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, as well as a regular on the network's NFL and NBA coverage. Nichols was also a correspondent for E:60 and worked as the sideline reporter on a number of Monday Night Football broadcasts. Prior to her time at ESPN she worked for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (1995–1996) and Washington Post (1996–2004), where she covered the NHL's Washington Capitals. She also became a recurring guest-host on Pardon My Take and the Pardon the Interruption (a.k.a. PTI) TV show and podcast (2016–present).Return specialist
A return specialist or kick returner is a player on the special teams unit of an American football or Canadian football team who specializes in returning punts and kickoffs. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most also play another position such as wide receiver, defensive back, or running back. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.
According to All-American Venric Mark, "Returning punts is harder. You have to judge the ball more, you have to know when to fair catch and when not to. You can't be a superhero and try to catch everything. With kickoff returns, you catch the ball and — boom — you're going."Sean Payton
Patrick Sean Payton (born December 29, 1963) is an American football coach and former player who is the current head coach of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). Payton was a quarterback at Naperville Central High School and Eastern Illinois University and played professionally in 1987 and 1988. He began his coaching career as offensive assistant for San Diego State University and had several assistant coaching positions on college and NFL teams before being named as the tenth full-time coach in Saints history in 2006. Payton has always been known for his offensive prowess, having scored more points (2,804) and gained more yards (40,158) than any other team in a coach's first 100 games in NFL history. Payton is currently the 2nd longest active head coach in the NFL, behind the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, whom has coached them since the 2000 season.
Under Payton's leadership, the Saints made the 2006 NFL playoffs after a 3–13 season in 2005 and advanced to their first NFC Championship appearance in franchise history, Payton won the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award because of this effort. Following the 2009 season, the Saints won their first Super Bowl championship in franchise history. Since joining the Saints as head coach he has helped guide the team to 3 NFC Championship games (2006, 2009, and 2018), an appearance in Super Bowl XLIV, and 7 total playoff births with 5 division titles. Making him the most successful coach in Saints franchise history.
On March 21, 2012, Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season, originally set to take effect April 1, 2012, as a result of his alleged involvement in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, under which "bounties" were allegedly paid for contact that would "knock out" targeted players on opposing teams. Payton has denied that any program encouraging Saints players to injure opposing players ever existed, even though the NFL claims their evidence proves otherwise. Assistant coach Joe Vitt stated "We had a pay to perform program, just like many NFL teams do, but there was never a bounty program, we didn't ever encourage a pay-to-injure program. That's just not true. We never crossed the line." Payton filed an appeal of his suspension with the league the Friday before it was set to take effect. On April 9, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (who handed down the suspension) denied his appeal; his suspension began on April 16. Goodell reinstated Payton on January 22, 2013.Payton is under contract with the Saints at least until the end of the 2020 season. A previously agreed-upon extension of his contract through 2015 was voided by the NFL. This left his status after the 2012 season unclear until December of that year, when he agreed to a five-year contract that made him the highest paid coach in the history of the NFL. In March 2016, Payton signed a five-year extension with the Saints.