Calling the New Orleans Saints football players bounty scandal "troubling" and "disturbing," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced today on the Senate floor that he will hold a Judiciary Committee hearing in April about bounties in the NFL.
"A spirit of aggressiveness and competitiveness is an integral part of many sporting contests, but bribing players to intentionally hurt their opponents cannot be tolerated," Durbin said. "We have to put an end to this."
This month it was revealed that the Saints were involved in a "pay for performance" program that included payments to their players for injuring specific opposing players. Durbin said he wants to make sure that this never happens again on any team or any sport.
"We will have a hearing and put on the record what sports leagues and teams at the professional and collegiate levels are doing to make sure that there's no place in athletics for these pay-to-maim bounties. I want to hear the policies and practices in each of the major sports and collegiate sports that are being put in place and have one explore whether federal legislation is required."
The hearing, which will be held after the Easter recess in the Senate, will invite representatives and witnesses from the major sporting leagues and NCAA.
Durbin himself was once a high school football player, and said he has a "bum knee" to show for it.
"Accidents will happen and injuries will happen. That's part of the game. I knew it when I put on my uniform and went out on that field. But I never dreamed that there would be some conspiracy, some bribery involved in some other player trying to intentionally hurt me or take me out of the game. That goes way beyond sports."
Some of Durbin's Senate colleagues were not so pleased to be holding a hearing on sports, saying there were other, more pressing issues.
"#senate hasn't passed a #budget in almost 3 yrs but is going to have hearings on #bounties in #nfl?," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted today. "#comeonman."