A top Senate Democrat Wednesday called off a congressional hearing on NFL bounty programs, saying he was satisfied with the league’s response to the matter.
In a news conference at the Capitol with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Sen Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the assistant majority leader, said the NFL’s response to bounties allegedly paid to New Orleans Saints players has been sufficient. Saints coaches and players have been suspended for what the league said was their participation in a program that paid players to injure opponents. Some of the players have denied wrongdoing.
Other teams coached by Gregg Williams, the suspended former Saints defensive coordinator, have been connected to bounties, including the Redskins. When results of the league’s investigation of the Saints were announced on March 2, Redskins players and former assistant coaches said Washington had a similar bounty program when Williams coached for them.
Goodell said later in March that the league’s investigation into the Redskins and other teams had not concluded. But Wednesday he said follow-up probes have not found any other bounty programs.
“We have followed up on every report — we have had several reports, not to get specific about them — but in every one of those cases we have followed up,” Goodell said. “If there is any report of a bounty, we will take that seriously. We have been very clear that there were pay-for-performance programs in other teams.
“We have not seen any of them where they have engaged in a program that would actually target players for injury or reward players for injuring another player. That was our major focus. But we abolished, as of this spring, all performance payments and all bounties.”
Goodell re-emphasized Wednesday several steps the NFL is taking to eliminate bounty programs, including a tip line and posters in locker rooms. Durbin — who equated bounties to bribery — said he also has had discussions with the NCAA regarding its efforts to prevent bounty programs in college football.