On the whole, the NFL runs itself in quite a professional manner. There are the odd black marks on the league, such as the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal, but most unwanted publicity is caused by the actions of individual players not the league in general. Last year’s brief lockout didn’t help though, but the latest uproar involves a bounty system that was implemented by the New Orleans Saints.

The league announced on March 2 that between 22 and 27 of the Saints’ defensive players were paid money in a bounty program from 2009 to 2011 which was administered by Gregg Williams, who was the team’s defensive coordinator at the time. While it’s believed the ‘pay-for-performance’ system is commonplace in the NFL, it’s against league rules.

A recent investigation discovered that Saints players were paid $1,500 for knocking an opponent out of a game and $1,000 if a hit resulted in the player being carried off the field. The bonus money was allegedly doubled or tripled during playoff games. It’s believed that New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma placed a $10,000 cash bounty on the opposition prior to a playoff game and coach Sean Payton put up bounty money a minimum of two times. In addition, players were paid bonus money for fumble recoveries and interceptions.

Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, said he’ll determine what the punishment will be in the next couple of weeks. He said he’s disappointed in the bounty system because players were rewarded for injuring fellow players. He added that the rule against bounties was created in the first place to promote the safety of players as well as competitive integrity. Goodell said he wouldn’t tolerate this type of behaviour especially after the league has progressed in many areas concerning player safety issues.

The commissioner said the investigation was launched back in 2010 after it was alleged that New Orleans defenders targeted quarterback Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings during the 2009 playoffs on the Saints way to their Super Bowl victory. Goodell said the league’s security department spoke with a number of players, but they said there was no such bounty system in place. Also, the player who made the allegation then retracted it.

However, new information came to light and the league re-opened the investigation towards the end of last season. Information gathered revealed that it was mainly players who funded the bounty program and it possibly reached as high as $50,000. The NFL said Williams, who now works with the St Louis Rams, wasn’t the only coach involved.

Williams released a statement which included an apology to the NFL, New Orleans owner Tom Benson, and the team’s fans for his participation in the bounty program. He said it was a big mistake and everybody involved knew it was wrong and he takes full responsibility for his actions. The investigation found that found coach Payton knew about the program, but didn’t do anything to deter it. In addition, once Benson knew what was going on he asked GM Mickey Loomis to put an end to it, but he didn’t.

It looks like Williams, Payton, and Loomis will be in for some sort of punishment after the league said their conduct was detrimental to the NFL. Meanwhile, Benson said the Saints will cooperate fully with the league and its ongoing investigation. The NFL Players Association also said it will look into the allegations made by the league as players health and safety is a vital issue.

Written by Ian Palmer via FeedCrossing, Content News Source

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