NEW YORK -- After meeting with a top Democratic senator, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday steps the league is taking to prevent the paying of bounties to players to intentionally injure their opponents, including the creation of an anonymous tip line players can use to report infractions.
"We've taken very strong action to make sure they're not part of sports going forward," Goodell said at a news conference after a brief meeting with Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. "And that the integrity of our game and the safety of our players is paramount. And that we're going to take very aggressive steps to protect that."
Durbin said the NFL's self-imposed measures have persuaded him to shelve a planned hearing and potential legislative remedies.
Besides the tip line, Goodell said the league would send a communication to all NFL personnel, "making it extremely clear that we have a policy, we've had a policy, and we will enforce our policies against bounties if violations occur."
In addition, a "bounties section" will be added to player handbooks, and posters promoting the tip line will be hung in locker rooms, Goodell said. Also, e-mails about the effort will be sent to fans who are registered with the NFL.
In an interview with CNN, Durbin commended the NFL for being proactive in handling the matter.
"Unlike many issues that come before us, this issue was discovered by the NFL, the investigation was initiated by the NFL, and the actions that have been taken against coaches and players was taken by the NFL," Durbin said.
"There was no denial of what happened. In fact, they aggressively pursued the information they were given. What more could I accomplish with a law? This is better; it's much better. And it's timely."
Durbin said he also has been in talks with the National Collegiate Athletic Association to prevent football bounties at that level.
He said the NCAA had agreed to take several steps to raise awareness about the issue.
In April, an audio tape was released that appears to be evidence of the New Orleans Saints' bounty program that rewarded players for injuring opponents.
The recording is supposedly of New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams telling players to go after the San Francisco 49ers prior to a Jan. 13 playoff game.
The authenticity of the recording cannot be confirmed, and we want to warn you that the audio is very graphic.
It was recorded and released by documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon.
The audio was posted to The United States of Football website.
Pamphilon claims that, at one point, Williams rubbed his fingers together -- implying the players would be paid for injuring 49ers.
The team was recently penalized for the bounty program.
On March 2, 2012, the NFL announced that it had evidence that 22-27 Saints players, along with Williams, pooled their own money for the bonuses.
The NFL also found that head coach Sean Payton tried to cover up the scheme.
Further, the league said general manager Mickey Loomis did not shut the program down when team owner Tom Benson ordered him to do so.
Williams was suspended indefinitely, while Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season.
Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season.
NFL Commissioner Goodell Announces Anti-Bounty Steps
Evidence of Saints bounty program? (theusof.com)