The NFL Players Association said Wednesday that it will conduct its own review of the bounty case involving the New Orleans Saints. It apparently wants the league to wait until after the union’s review is completed before imposing disciplinary measures in the case.
“The NFLPA negotiated vigorously to protect our players from coercive actions that compromise health and safety,” the union said in a written statement. “The current CBA contains detailed rules on what clubs and coaches can and cannot do in terms of practice schedules and places limitations on the amount of contact. These rules include how clubs and coaches can be punished for violations of those safeguards.
‘The statements made by New Orleans Saints management and coaches confirm that they engaged in improper and coercive activities.”
Union officials declined further comment. An NFL spokesman also declined to comment.
The league has not offered a timetable for taking disciplinary action in the case. There had been speculation that the NFL was planning to act before the annual league meeting later this month. It is unclear if the union’s review will have an effect on the league’s deliberations.
A person familiar with the case said last weekend that Saints Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and those players most heavily involved in the bounty scheme potentially face lengthy suspensions, perhaps a half-season or longer in some instances.
“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 union said. “Dangerous play and acts on the field by players intended to injure have no place in football. We must do better to ensure that this activity is not a part of our game.”
The league announced last week it had concluded after a lengthy investigation that the Saints had violated NFL rules with a program by which players received cash payments for, among other things, hits that injured opponents. According to the league’s announcement Friday, possible penalties in the case include fines, suspensions or the forfeiture of draft choices.
Williams, now the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, met with members of the NFL’s security staff Monday after additional allegations surfaced that the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills had similar bounty programs when he was with those teams. In a written statement last week, Williams apologized for his role in the Saints’ case.
Payton and Loomis said in a written statement Tuesday that they took responsibility for the violations found by the league.
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