NFL Bounty Scandal: Reform Promised, Senate Hearing Called Off
The National Football League announced today new reforms to protect player safety in the aftermath of the bounty scandal that started with the New Orleans Saints, and that was good enough for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who has now rescinded his call for a Congressional hearing over the issue.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has promised to write a letter to all league employees, team employees and players regarding bounties - incentives to players to injure their opponents. Goodell said each player will receive a new NFL Players Handbook with a "bounties section," and they will be required to acknowledge receipt.
There will be an anonymous hotline created to "encourage players" to report issues relating to bounties. Posters will be hung in team locker rooms addressing the bounties issue and including the hotline information.
Additionally, an email will be sent to all registered NFL fans, an estimated 5 million people, assuring them the league takes the problem of bounties seriously.
In March it was revealed that the New Orleans Saints were involved in a "pay for performance" scheme that included payments to their players for injuring specific opposing players. Sen. Durbin almost immediately called then for a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But today, Durbin said, these reforms satisfy his call for changes and a hearing will not be necessary.
"What we have today is timely, I think effective and we will come back to revisit it if more action is needed," Durbin said today. "Bribing players to intentionally hurt their opponents will not be tolerated. We must keep the game as safe as possible."
"We will continue to work with the senator and his office," NFL Commissioner Goodell said, "We will continue to evaluate our policies at every step. If they need modifications we will take those steps."
Durbin defended Congress' role in the matter, as some - including other members of Congress - have suggested it is not Congress' job to get involved.
"It is a federal crime to bribe someone to influence the outcome of a professional sporting event," Durbin said. "It seems the appropriate place for a congressional inquiry."
Sen. Durbin's office also said he is in similar talks with the NCAA about what steps they are taking to prevent bounties as well.