As everyone waits and speculates what punishment will be handed down from the NFL for Gregg Williams and the New Orleans Saints over the Bounty Gate scandal, the NFLPA released a statement today regarding their involvement in the discussions with the NFL over appropriate measures for those involved.
“The NFLPA is undertaking a comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding these reported violations of League rules,” the statement read. “As part of this review, the NFLPA has requested that the NFL help facilitate interviews with members of New Orleans Saints management and coaching staff that were employed by the club in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”
The statement concluded by saying, “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.”
Yesterday, Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis stood up to take responsibility for the actions, apologized and took the blame for the violations of league rules.
”We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility,” they said in a joint statement released on Tuesday.
They went on to add, “Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.”
The NFL confirmed that team owner Tom Benson was unaware of the bounty policy and when informed about it, he told Loomis to stop immediately, but Loomis did not. The joint statement by Loomis and Peyton confirmed that Benson “had nothing to do” with it.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that commission Roger Goodell will review the information with his staff and consult with others, including the NFLPA and player leaders, before handing down his penalties.
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said, “’We take this issue seriously and we continue to look into it.”
Goodell has taken a hard line on player safety issues, and this program that was organized and administered by the coaching staff, is the highest profile issue of this type that he’s had to deal with. It is expected to earn the harshest measures that Goodell has ever handed down, likely including fines and extended suspensions.
Former NFL safety John Lynch, known as one of the hardest hitters in his day, said, “’I would expect this to be pretty severe and harsh because of the direction the commissioner has taken in making player safety if not his top initiative, then one of them.”
Gregg Williams met with the NFL on Monday to discuss his role in the “pay-for-performance” violations, aka Bounty-Gate, during his tenure with the Saints.
Sources indicated that Williams met with general counsel Jeff Pash and NFL security officials Joe Hummel and Jeff Miller, but details related to Monday’s meetings were unavailable.
Over the weekend, additional sources reported that there were similar systems in place in Buffalo and Washington during Williams’ tenure with the Bills and Redskins.
The NFL will also investigate accusations about the bounty system in Washington, although it is too soon in the process to know what the outcome will be. Former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs indicated last week that he was unaware of the system when Williams was his defensive coordinator.
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