The Bounty Scandal
After the NFL determined that the Saints had a system of cash bonuses for knocking opposing players out of games, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) started sniffing around the "disturbing" scandal and called for a hearing. Roger Goodell came down hard by suspending head coach Sean Payton for the next season, assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games, GM Mickey Loomis for eight and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (accused of running a similar bounty program while with three other teams) indefinitely. A $500,000 fine and forfeiture of two draft picks was included. Four current and former Saints were suspended for being ringleaders, but Goodell's power play partly fell apart when an appeals panel in New Orleans overturned the players' bans, at least temporarily, ruling that the commissioner had overstepped his authority.