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Saints Futures Take Hit as Sean Payton Suspended for 2012 NFL Season

The New Orleans Saints were one of opening Super Bowl Bovada betting favorites for the 2012 season at 10/1 – the Super Bowl also is in New Orleans next February – but now New Orleans will have to play the upcoming year without head coach Sean Payton as he was suspended for the season in the wake of the bounty scandal that rocked the NFL. That has moved the Saints' Super Bowl odds to 12/1.
 
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In addition, the Saints were fined $500,000, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games and fined $500,000 himself, assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt was hit with a six-game suspension without pay and the team will lose its second-round draft pick in the 2012 and 2013 drafts (New Orleans was already without a first-round pick this year). Payton’s suspension, also without pay, is effective April 1 for one year.
 
The NFL revealed earlier this month the findings of a lengthy investigation into a Saints "bounty" program that gave thousands of dollars in payoffs to players for hits that knocked opponents out of games. The program, administered by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, reached its height in 2009, the season the Saints won the Super Bowl. Williams, now the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, has been suspended indefinitely – Commissioner Roger Goodell will review his case after the 2012 season.
 
Up to 27 Saints players reportedly took part in the bounty program; linebacker Jonathan Vilma allegedly offered any teammate $10,000 to knock Vikings QB Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Vilma, the heart of that Saints defense, and other players certainly also will face suspensions. However, the NFL Players Association formally requested that the league not the players until the union had completed its independent investigation, which is underway.
 
It’s not yet clear who will now be the team’s head coach but it could well be former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired by St. Louis last year but hired by the Saints as the defensive coordinator to replace Williams. The Saints still also must sign QB Drew Brees to an extension after putting the franchise tag on Brees.
 
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