The NFL has no plans to penalize the Washington Redskins over allegations that the team’s defensive players had an improper bounty program when Gregg Williams oversaw the defense between the 2004 and 2007 seasons, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s investigation.
The league has investigated the matter but has not found evidence to corroborate the accusations, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL has made no formal announcement about the status of the probe.
The league “followed up” but found “no evidence of the type of program that existed at the Saints,” the person said. “Unlike the Saints case, there was no independent, multiple corroboration of statements made in the media.”
NFL investigators also have not corroborated allegations of a bounty program in Buffalo when Williams was the Bills’ head coach between 2001 and 2003, and the league has no plans to punish the Bills either, the person said.
The person left open the possibility of the league taking action against the Redskins or Bills if new information surfaces in the future. It is not clear how many people were interviewed by league investigators in the Redskins case.
The person with knowledge of the case said there is no ongoing active investigation. But when there was a similar report in late March that the league had ended its active investigation of the Redskins in the bounty case, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the league’s annual meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., that the investigation was not over.
Redskins players and former assistant coaches said when results of the league’s investigation of the New Orleans Saints were announced in March that the Redskins had a similar bounty program when Williams coached their defense. Former Redskins safety Matt Bowen wrote in the Chicago Tribune that such a bounty system existed under Williams when he was with the team.
The Buffalo News reported in March that during his time as the head coach of the Bills, Williams promoted a program of cash payments to players for hits that injured opponents.
The league imposed harsh penalties after determining that the Saints had a bounty program the previous three seasons that paid players for hits that injured opponents. Williams, the former defensive coordinator of the Saints, was suspended indefinitely.
Saints Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season. General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for a half-season and assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended for eight games. The Saints were fined $500,000 and lost a pair of second-round draft picks.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for a full season and defensive lineman Will Smith was suspended for four games. Former defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove was suspended for eight games and former linebacker Scott Fujita received a three-game suspension.
Players have denied the allegations and continue to contest their penalties in court. The NFL Players Association has maintained there is no evidence of a pay-to-injure scheme in New Orleans.