The New Orleans Saints relished the chance to deliver knockout blows to opponents. In response, the NFL has slapped the team with enough suspensions to make them woozy.
The final tally of penalties for the Saints' play-for-pay bounty scandal includes administrators, coaches and, now, players. In all, New Orleans was dealt suspensions without pay for a total of 50 games (plus 11 games for two players no longer on the team), a pair of second-round picks and a $500,000 fine. The head coach, Sean Payton, is out for the season. So is three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
Such losses would rock a reigning Super Bowl champion. The Saints are a weaker team than last January. How much weaker? That's still a wait-and-see evaluation.
The rest of the league will watch how New Orleans operates from here. The punishment handed down was severe, and justifiably so. The Saints will be an archenemy at every NFL venue on the schedule. Still, by no means is their season over before ...