Goodell confident that bounties are thing of the past

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Goodell confident that bounties are thing of the past

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- Commissioner Roger Goodell is confident that bounty hunting will no longer be an issue in the NFL because of the severe penalties handed out in the wake of the New Orleans Saints scandal. Goodell said the actions taken by the league "speak very loudly." "I heard that from our clubs, from our personnel," he said during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday. "They recognize it's not part of the game. It doesn't need to be part of the game. And I don't think it's going to be an issue going forward." The NFL said it found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams oversaw a bounty program in New Orleans from 2009 to 2011 which paid off-the-books bonuses of 1,500 for "knockouts," or hits which forced a player out of games, and 1,000 for "cart-offs," which left players needing help off the field. Williams, who took a job as the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, has since been suspended indefinitely and coach Sean Payton was banished for the 2012 season. General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. There was also a 500,000 fine for the team and the loss of two second-round draft picks, not to mention suspensions for several current and former Saints players. Current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the upcoming season, while defensive end Will Smith got a four-game punishment. Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) were also punished. The NFL Players Association has challenged Goodell's power to impose penalties and has asked an arbitrator to decide if the players should be punished for the system. Goodell would not say if he thought the case would be resolved before the end of the season, pointing out that it's in arbitration. It's one of several areas where the union has challenged the league during a combative offseason, including a grievance accusing the NFL of using a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost the players at least 1 billion. The union also filed a grievance for drug-related suspensions for two Denver Broncos. Vilma has filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, whose lawyers requested a delay to respond, something the league calls routine in such cases. "I think one of the things that's made the NFL great is we've solved our own problems," Goodell said. "Several of those things are collectively bargained, which we've just concluded a 10-year agreement, and they're in the collective bargaining agreement. I believe that our process has worked. We've modified those processes, even outside of the collective bargaining, to make them responsible and responsive to their needs. But we do want to make sure that at every point we uphold the standards that our fans expect." Goodell was at Soldier Field with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to recognize the stadium as the first to become a LEED-certified building, meaning it is considered environmentally friendly. They also discussed the possibility of Chicago hosting a Super Bowl. "We did speak about this earlier," Goodell said. "We are, as you know, hosting a Super Bowl in New York in an open-air stadium in 2014, and we're excited about that. We think it's going to be a great thing for our fans and a great thing for New York. "I think if we can do it successfully there, and I think that opens up doors where we'll be looking at. Obviously, you know how to host great events. ... And you've got a great stadium." Emanuel touted the recent NATO summit as an example of the city's ability to host a big event, with world leaders in town, and he said Chicago would be a "perfect place" to have a Super Bowl. Of course, everyone is familiar with Chicago's reputation for savage winters and Soldier Field lacks a roof. It also holds just 63,500 fans. Would the city have to enlarge the stadium to attract a Super Bowl? Emanuel would not say. "I think the commissioner said something which is really, really important," Emanuel said. "The first step is to host something in New York, which is an open stadium." Goodell acknowledged that capacity "is always an issue." "The most important thing now is having a great stadium and a city that can have the infrastructure to host the hundreds of thousands of people that come in," he said.

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.