THE NEW ORLEANS Saints have been found guilty of running a “bounty programme” from 2009-2011, the league just announced.
And now that the NFL has uncovered the big-money scheme, it likely will zero in on other teams defence coach Gregg Williams worked for.
That means the Titans, Redskins, Jaguars and Bills probably should all expect to hear from the league soon.
Williams has admitted and apologised for running a bounty pool of up to $50,000 over the last three seasons that rewarded players with thousand-dollar payoffs for knocking targeted opponents out of games while he was the Saints’ defensive coordinator.
He will meet with NFL investigators today in the NewYork area, according to two people familiar with the NFL’s investigation of the bounties. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because details of the continuing investigation are not being disclosed. ESPN first reported the meeting.
“It was a terrible mistake,” Williams said in a statement Friday night shortly after the NFL released the report. “And we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Sunday in an email to the AP that the investigation was far from over and that the league will continue “addressing the issues raised as part of our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of the game.”
Before joining the Saints, Williams was the defensive coordinator in Tennessee, Washington and Jacksonville, and the head coach in Buffalo. In January, he was hired by new St Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher to lead the defense.
Former Redskins safety Matt Bowen said Williams had a similar bounty scheme when he was in Washington. Former Bills safety Coy Wire told The Buffalo News that an environment of “malicious intent” was in place when he joined the team in 2002 — when Williams was the head coach. Wire said Williams promoted “financial compensation” for hits that injured opponents.
The NFL said payoffs were made by the Saints for inflicting game-ending injuries on targeted players, including quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.