Roger Goodell suspends Sean Payton for 2012 season

Roger Goodell has to be stopped — immediately.

We’re all for protecting professional athletes, especially those modern-day gladiators known as NFL stars .. but this is getting ridiculous.

On Wednesday — at right about the same time Tim Tebow was traded (or not) to the Jets — the league’s commish announced that he had suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season due to his role in bounty-gate.

Goodell also banned Saints GM Mickey Loomis for the first eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now in the same position in St. Louis) was also banned indefinitely. Goodell also fined the Saints organization $500,000 and took away two second-round picks (one this year, another in 2013).

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities,” said Goodell. “No one is above the game or the rules that govern it.”

What really seemed to stick under Goodell’s craw was the fact the Saints lied to him. Payton “falsely denied the program existed” and ignored instructions to make sure a bounty program didn’t exist.

Saints QB Drew Brees took to Twitter to defend his coach, writing: “I am speechless. Sean Payton is a great man, coach, and mentor … I need to hear an explanation for this punishment.”

Look, we understand that an official bounty program has no place in the NFL. However, to think that every team doesn’t have one (even in a wink, wink way) is ridiculous.

With Payton banned, the NFL has severely handicapped one of the league’s best teams and its Super Bowl chances. So much so that Las Vegas had to momentarily shut down its Super Bowl odds.

“The Saints we have moved from 10-1 to 12-1 and in turn dropped the Panthers slightly from 40-1 to 30-1 and the Falcons from 28-1 to 25-1. Once we have more news on who will be coaching the team this season these definitely could move a little more,” said Kevin Bradley, who manages Bovada.

How does this affect the Eagles you might be asking? Well, not too much honestly. The Saints are on their schedule, so they’ll have a better chance of beating them. But that’s about it.

Both Eagles coach Andy Reid and GM Howie Roseman refused to comment on the Saints’ development when asked at a press conference to introduce DeMeco Ryans.

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