New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has seemingly had quite an emotional offseason. Earlier this month, Brees was described as "livid" over being slapped with the franchise tag by the Saints instead of receiving a long-term contract. After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed severe punishments to the organization for running a "bounty" program -- including suspensions of head coach Sean Payton for a year and ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely -- the six-time Pro Bowler tweeted that he was "speechless."
Shortly after the NFL initially revealed the pay-for-pain system in place under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Brees released a statement on his website and wrote that he "did not participate in any Bounty program."
"There is no place in the National Football League, or any sport played at any level, for players to conspire, to be coerced, or to be incentivized to intentionally injure another player. I did not participate in any Bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence. I have spent the last several years as an Executive Committee Member of the NFLPA making health and safety a priority and I am proud of the advancements we've made and will continue to make."
To understand NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's reasoning behind the unprecedented punishments, Brees could start by taking another look at his own statement. Regardless, Brees is hardly the only one surprised by the league's ruling. According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (via ProFootballTalk) who interviewed Payton after the punishments were reported, the coach was "stunned" and "beside himself." Payton is suspended for a full year without pay, meaning he will lose about $7 million.
Williams, who was hired by the Rams to be their new defensive coordinator, was also surprised by the severity of the discipline and was described by St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher as "shocked but remorseful."
Williams apologized shortly after the punishments were revealed.
The Saints also released a statement on their website:
We recognize our fans’ concerns and we regret the uncertainty this episode has created for them. We are humbled by the support our organization has received from our fans today in the wake of this announcement, and we ask them to continue to stand with us, as they have done in the past, when both our team and our city have overcome greater adversities.
There is no place for bounties in our league and we reiterate our pledge that this will never happen again.
Goodell stood by his ruling and emphasized that the Saints lied to the league when it first started the investigation
"I don't think you can be too hard on people that put at risk our players' health and safety," Goodell said. "That is a critical issue for us going forward and has been in our past."