The NFL commissioner has put a bounty on violators of the league's no-bounties rule.
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell came down hard this week on coaches and managers of the New Orleans Saints who were implicated in a program to pay bounties for injuring members of the opposition.
Goodell's actions, no doubt, will draw attention across the league because his penalties hit where it matters most — right in the wallet.
Gregg Williams, the team's defensive coordinator who recently took the same job with the St. Louis Rams, has been suspended for the forthcoming season, and any reinstatement depends on his cooperation with the league on the bounty program.
Head coach Sean Payton, a star quarterback at Eastern Illinois University and onetime Illini assistant coach, also was suspended for the forthcoming season. His penalty was especially severe because he attempted to orchestrate a cover-up when NFL investigators started making inquiries.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt were suspended eight and six games, respectively.
As an organization, the Saints were fined $500,000 and ordered to forfeit their second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.
These heavy penalties are aimed at eliminating gratuitous violence in an especially violent game.
Under the bounty program, a practice described as common in the NFL, players and coaches contributed money to a special fund paid to Saints players who either knocked an opposing player out of a game or injured the player seriously enough to miss future games.
Goodell called the practice "totally unacceptable."
Meanwhile, the league is still investigating in an attempt to determine if any players should be fined or suspended.
The Saints' bounty program is the antithesis of what sports should be about — hard but clean play. It represents a deliberate effort to injure and is reflective of professional sports' win-at-any-cost approach to competition.
Goodell's effort to rein in this kind of conduct may prove to be futile. But he's putting NFL players, coaches and management on notice that future violators will pay a high price for this type of misconduct.