Article

NFL expose Saints injury bounties

3 March 2012 02:24

The New Orleans Saints are facing sanctions after it was revealed they rewarded players for injuring opponents during the last three seasons.

The NFL announced on Friday that up to 27 New Orleans defensive players, as well as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, maintained a bounty system financed by the players themselves which paid $1,500 for a "knockout" and $1,000 for a "cart-off".

After a lengthy investigation, the NFL said Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis were both aware of the bounties, but did nothing to stop them.

The findings of the investigation have been presented to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who will decide on a punishment, which could include draft sanctions or a hefty fine.

"The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for 'performance', but also for injuring opposing players," Goodell said in a statement.

"The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity."

"It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated."

"We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it."

The NFL has a long-standing rule against non-contract bonuses, with league rules specifically stating: "No bonus or award may directly or indirectly be offered, promised, announced, or paid to a player for his or his team’s performance against a particular team or opposing player or a particular group thereof. No bonuses or awards may be offered or paid for on field misconduct (for example, personal fouls to or injuries inflicted on opposing players)."

The breaches by the Saints, which occurred between 2009 and 2011, also included bonuses for interceptions and creating fumbles, with payouts doubling or tripling in playoff games.

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