The NFL will investigate allegations that the Washington Redskins had a bounty program that paid players four-figure bonuses for jarring hits on opponents when Gregg Williams coached the team’s defense between the 2004 and 2007 seasons, a league source said Saturday.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said it is standard procedure for NFL officials to look into any accusations that league rules have been broken.
League investigators will try to determine the facts of the case before drawing any conclusions about whether the team or individuals could face disciplinary action, said the person, who is familiar with the NFL’s intentions. The person declined to speculate about penalties if the NFL determines that violations occurred.
A former Redskins coach and five players said Friday that the team’s defense under Williams had a system to reward players with cash for hits that knocked opponents from games as well as other plays, including interceptions and fumble recoveries. Former defensive end Phillip Daniels, now the Redsksins’ director of player development, acknowledged the practice but defended Williams, saying the approach promoted “good, hard football.” Others spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Former Redskins safety, now commentator, Matt Bowen also confirmed the practice, describing the Redskins’ bounty program, along with the incentives behind it, in the Chicago Tribune on Friday.
Joe Gibbs, the team’s head coach when Williams coached the defense, said Friday he was unaware of any such program. The Redskins declined to comment Friday.
The NFL announced Friday that the New Orleans Saints had violated league rules with a similar bounty program under Williams. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine disciplinary measures that could include fines, suspensions or the forfeiture of draft choices by the Saints, according to Friday’s announcement.
The league cited the Saints’ head coach, Sean Payton, and general manager, Mickey Loomis, for failing to take steps to halt the program but determined that owner Tom Benson was unaware of it until he was informed by the NFL.
The NFL’s investigation of the Saints began in early 2010 and included the review of 18,000 documents with more than 50,000 pages, according to the league
Williams, now the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, issued a written apology for the Saints bounty program Friday, acknowledging that he knew it was wrong at the time he was administering it.
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