NFLPA Seeks Interviews With New Orleans Saints Over Bounty Program Review
The National Football League Players Association wants to interview New Orleans Saints coaches and executives as part of an investigation aimed at helping determine what rule changes are needed to prevent players from taking inducements to injure opponents.
The Saints, under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, paid bounties from 2009-11 to players who hurt opponents, the National Football League said last week. Williams, who is now with the St. Louis Rams, admitted to the program and Saints coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis two days ago took responsibility for allowing it to go on.
Players were paid $1,500 for a “knockout,” in which an opposing player was unable to return to the game, and $1,000 for a “cart-off,” in which rivals were carried off the field. Payments doubled or tripled during the playoffs.
“If the facts prove that players voluntarily and willingly participated in conduct that jeopardized health and safety, we will work with them and the league to put in place additional safeguards to prevent this in the future,” the NFLPA said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Dangerous play and acts on the field by players intended to injure have no place in football.”
Since the revelations, four former Redskins have told the Washington Post that the team had a similar program when Williams was defensive coordinator there between 2004 and 2007.
The allegations were originally denied and the investigation, which included a review of 18,000 documents and an undisclosed number of interviews, was reopened toward the end of last season.
“We recognize that this investigation was conducted over the course of many months,” the union said. “Accordingly, we have requested that the NFL provide us with sufficient time to complete our internal review as counsel to the players.”
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