Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/22/12
While RG3 was throwing for scouts at his Pro Day Wednesday, the real RG, Commissioner Roger Goodell, was throwing down Biblical-plague-level penalties in the wake of Bountygate (blame Nixon, but all conspiracies are now legally obligated to add "-gate" to the end of it... Watergate was just a damn hotel people). To recap the slaughter: New Orleans is fined $500,000 (the most the NFL can levy), loses second round Draft picks in 2012 and 2013, Sean Payton is out a year sans paycheck (he makes an average $7.5 million a year... more than the Saints got fined... Hey, do they get to keep his $7.5 mil or does the NFL get that?), and the kingpin of the whole ordeal, Gregg Williams, gets an indefinite (read: infinite, as in never ending) hiatus from anything involving the NFL (GM Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt are also looking at suspensions).

While the rest of the world will give you their two cents (and another $20 after) about the severity of the punishment in respect to the crime, it's something the NFL deals with each and every time there's a new wrong to address. Whether for gambling in football or for taping another team's signals, illegal hits or an illegal "trying to regain your balance through stomping on people", the NFL has never been shy about raising the hackles of fanbases around the country when doling out the time for the crime. Whether Roger Goodell or Pete Rozelle, NFL Commissioners have been handing down big time smacks for years in their quest to clean up and legitimize the controlled violence that is the sport of football, and while the New Orleans Saints got a big time whoopin' for sure, the fans there aren't the only ones who have squirted some tears when their team got spanked.

So, to save you time looking yourself, I've made a list of some of the more memorable NFL fines, suspensions, and pimp slaps in the league's history, organized below under bold headlines for easy perusing... Enjoy.
One Stomp, Two Stomp: Albert Haynesworth and Ndomukong Suh's Happy Feet Proving that in football, there is no safe place to be, both Haynesworth and Suh were caught taking their aggressions out on opposing O-lineman by doing a little dance show on their supine forms. In the case of Suh, it was during a nationally televised Thanksgiving game in 2011, when the fiery Lions defender decided he hadn't heard the whistle ending play and wanted to make sure Green Bay lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith would stay down... by slamming his head thrice into the turf. He then stood up and stomped violently on Evan's arm, though Suh would initially claim in the post game that all the fuss was just him trying to get his balance (the normal way, by slamming and stomping). He would, of course, later apologize for his actions, but was handed a two game, unpaid leave of absence (the fifth time he'd had to be disciplined for conduct unbecoming on the field) that was the equivalent of about $164,000. Perhaps as a result, the Lions lost the following week to (ironically) the New Orleans Saints and Suh's self-proclaimed "unacceptable" actions drew him unwelcome comparisons to previous stomper (and still champion of NFL stompings), the often over-hyped and always overpaid Albert Haynesworth.

In 2006, amidst a heated contest with Dallas, the then Titans defensive star decided he was just so angry that the Cowboys had scored that there needed to be some immediate retribution for this slap in the face. Seeing center Andre Gurode lying unsuspecting on the ground, Haynesworth decided this would be the perfect person to express his ire to, so he bent to remove Gurode's helmet, then stomped on his head. Though he missed the first time, Albert (showing a dedication and commitment we rarely saw in his play) took aim and stomped again, ensuring he connected with the unprotected center's skull and opening a 30-stitch laceration above his right eye. Though initially a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, Haynesworth would face stiffer fines from Goodell, who suspended him five games, at an estimated wallet cost of $190,000. Coach Jeff Fisher was embarrassed, the league as a whole side against Haynesworth (many thought his punishment wasn't severe enough), and Fat Albert, rather than apologizing, just moved on, uncaring in his big mansion with his many cars and hot tubs and pool tables and such...

(Quick post-script: Jim Schwartz was the coach in Detroit for Suh's stomp and the defensive coordinator in Tennessee during Haynesworth's... coincidence?)

Head-to-Head Competition: Harrison's Issues with Depth Perception Following numerous warnings to Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison about his overly violent hits and, more specifically, helmet-to-helmet contact, he finally broke the camel's back on December 8, 2011 against the Browns. It came after paying out $57,500 (after appeals, as it was initially $125,000+) for four previous illegal hits, and fresh on the heels of the NFL's public statements on "procedures that apply to suspension for on-field infractions". The statement was released due to increased awareness of the longterm affects of football on its retirees (especially in the areas of concussions), but Harrison didn't seems to think it applied to him and proceeded to lay a licking on Browns QB Colt McCoy that was a textbook example of what the NFL was warning players against. As McCoy was moving around behind the line of scrimmage, Harrison came rushing in, dropped his head, and used his helmet crown to uppercut the young QB in the chin (which, of course, caused a concussion). The one-game suspension (around $73,000 in missed pay as well) was quick and deaf to appeal, though Harrison continue to profess his innocence in the aftermath with endearing tweets like, "If [Commissioner Goodell] was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it," and posing for pics holding guns like he's 50 Cent. Harrison has long been the poster child for how not to hit a player in the NFL and it remains to be seen if last season's suspension yields any change in his play on the field, but if his attitude last year was any indication (he called Goodell, among other much, much worse things, a "crook"), we'll likely see him missing games or doling out some dollars in fines again soon.
Jets, Lies, and Videotape: The Spy... gate Fiasco Another -gate, the 2007 revelation (by the Jets) that Bill Belichick had people videotaping the Jets' defensive signals from a secret location on the sideline during games was one of the most punished acts of cheating in the modern era. Perhaps the most deserving of a -gate, the inquiry by the NFL involved everything from false allegations about further recordings to a Patriots video assistant with taped evidence asking for indemnity agreements and meeting behind closed doors. Belichick apologized, though he got into a Clinton-esque discussion about the meaning of language in the league's rules on videotaping (Coach Bill believed if the tapes weren't used DURING the game being played, then this recording was legal... he really said he believed that). The penalties, however, weren't to be dissuaded. So, on September 13, 2008, Cheater Bill was fined the league maximum of $500,000, the largest fine in the NFL's 87 year history, and the organization itself was hit with a $250,000 ticket, as well as losing their first round pick in 2008 (though if they'd missed the playoffs, it would have been a second and third rounder). How did this affect the Patriots? Well, they missed the playoffs in 2008, then lost in the first round in 2009, the same in 2010, and though they reached the Super Bowl again in 2011, they fell once more to the New York Football Giants (the same team that beat them in 2007 when these allegations first came out). It was the first blemish on the pristine Patriots of the last decade and brought a sickly light to all the accomplishments that came in that span, with some suddenly doubting how good those teams really were and how "genius" a coach Belichick really was.
Gambling With Your Career: Karras and Hornung Pull a Pete Rose Paul Hornung was the "Golden Boy" of the Green Bay Packers to start the sixties, a multi-threat running back that could put up big numbers anywhere on the field (he played a little placekicker and QB as well). The first overall selection in 1957 (before the league's combined), he set a then NFL record with 167 points scored in 1960, following that with being the 1961 NFL MVP. Hornung was a Heisman winner who would go on to win four league championships with the Packers and would be on the Super Bowl I winning squad (though he didn't play due to a pinched nerve, he still got the win). Alex Karras, "The Mad Duck", was the foster parent of Emmanuel Lewis on the TV show Webster and one-time professional wrestler (he sometimes went by the impressive moniker, "Dick the Bruiser")... Oh, and he played defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, a 161 game career that saw him go to four Pro Bowls and saw him amass 143 tackles and 15 forced fumbles. He was also Mongo (if you don't know, you better ask somebody).

What do Karras and Hornung have in common? They both were known for living life to the fullest and making the most out of their NFL opportunities, with Hornung grabbing numerous endorsement deals (a big deal for a football players at the time) and Karras running his own sports bar in Detroit, but they allowed their high living to make them feel untouchably above the law, as it was discovered in 1963 that they had been betting on football. Accused of associating with undesirable peoples (bookies) and placing numerous wagers on NFL games (sometimes as much as, gasp, $50--$100), Commissioner Pete Rozelle handed down shocking one year suspensions to both players, a previously unheard of thing in professional football (especially harsh when considering that Hornung was one of the big faces of the NFL at the time). In the aftermath, Hornung issued immediate apologies and that contrite attitude left his career relatively untarnished, as he played until 1966, was the oldest player to score 5 TDs in a game (just eleven days shy of his 30th bday), and was elected into the NFL Hall of Fame. Karras . however, never seemed as reticent, wrestled during the year suspension, and returned to play with the Lions until 1971, when he retired and turned his attention to movies and television. A polarizing figure in his playing days, Karras' largest concession to his punishment came during a coin flip in 1964, as when he was asked to call the toss, he replied, "I'm sorry, sir. I'm not permitted to gamble.". So, I guess he was sorry after all.

The Saints punishment is not the first time an NFL ruling has led to uproar in a fan base, but as each penalty is given, we perceive them as growing harsher, though they still seem to be proper to the crime in retrospect. It might not be a popular job running the NFL, but someone's got to do it and, to me, they've been doing alright when it counts. New Orleans deserved what they got, it was the message the NFL needed to send and though it's unfortunate that it happened to such a great team, the league needed to make sure this never happened again. Seems others will remember this sting, especially should the Saints have an 'Aints worthy season in 2012.

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