Yesterday, the NFL announced that, following an in depth investigation, the New Orleans Saints were in violation of the league's "bounty rule." The league reported that the Saints had a pool of money, managed by then defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, that would be given to defensive players who injured opposing players. Now, a Washington Post report from last night states Williams used the same program when he was an assistant with the Washington Redskins.
"You got compensated more for a kill shot than you did other hits," one former Redskins player, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper.
The payments ranged from "hundreds to thousands of dollars," with the largest payment believed to be $8,000, the Washington Post report states.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement yesterday about the Saints' bounty program. "Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Vikings," Commissioner Goodell said. "Our security department interviewed numerous players and other individuals. At the time, those interviewed denied that any such program existed and the player that made the allegation retracted his earlier assertions. As a result, the allegations could not be proven. We recently received significant and credible new information and the investigation was re-opened during the latter part of the 2011 season."
Williams, who is now the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator, apologized for the bounty program yesterday.
"It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it," Williams said. "Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again."
The Saints, and Williams, are expected to be facing hefty penalties due to running the program. With Commissioner Goodell's efforts to make the game safer and limit injuries, a team running a program awarding players for "kill shots" and "cart offs," is not going to be taken lightly by the league. The Saints could be looking at fines, suspensions of players and coaches, and forfeitures of draft picks, while the Rams may have to deal with Williams being suspended and fined.
But, running a bounty program for three years, including continuing it this year when the league specifically told the team to end it, warrants any consequences the league gives them.