The final ball has been dropped on the Saints. The players have been suspended in the bounty scandal, and I'm feeling a two-way street of shock on the news.
On the one hand, Jonathan Vilma getting whacked for the entire season was a stunner. I was expecting 2-8 games certainly not a full season.
Vilma and Will Smith are the only two current players to get suspended, equally as stunning to me.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made an example of Saints players while at the same time showed leniency by only taking out two.
He didn't suspend Roman Harper who led the team in fines for illegal hits from 2009-2011.
Nor did he go after Malcolm Jenkins, Sedrick Ellis, Scott Shanle, Tracy Porter or even Jabari Greer. All were central figures in Gregg Williams' system over the time frame where the bounty system was allegedly at its peak. If it were indeed that prevalent and detailed, these players would have undoubtedly had knowledge of it. Yet, none were suspended.
Once it became clear weeks ago that some players would face suspensions, one of the biggest questions I had was not only how long but also how many players would get hammered. If that number was high then how would league stagger the penalties?
That won't be an issue now.
The player losses are manageable. Smith has been suspended before (Star Caps) and the Saints have been preparing for life without Vilma since they signed Curtis Lofton.
Will it be easy? No.
But at least now the Saints know what they are facing in 2012 and all things considered, it could have been worse.