According to the Associated Press, assistant Senate majority leader, Sen. Dick Durbin (Illinois – D) is setting up a Judiciary Committee hearing about bounties in professional football and other major sports in the wake of the news that New Orleans Saints players received extra cash for hits that hurt particular opponents.
During a phone interview, Durbin said ”Let’s be real basic about it here. If this activity were taking place off of a sporting field, away from a court, nobody would have a second thought (about whether it’s wrong). `You mean, someone paid you to go out and hurt someone?’. It goes way beyond the rules of any sporting contest, at least team contest, to intentionally inflict harm on another person for a financial reward.”
Senator Durbin decided to set up these hearings the day after NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell sent down a harsh punishment to the New Orleans Saints, their head coach, general manager, and former defensive coordinator.
Durbin called what the commissioner did both “decisive and historic”.
What will this particular committee actually be looking for?
Well they want to understand how this is happening in not only the NFL, but the NBA, NHL, NCAA and Major League Baseball, and what can be done to stop this type of gamesmanship. One idea that Durbin is said to present is to extend the federal sports bribery laws to cover bounties. In essence if someone offers in a team sports situation some sort of value, money or otherwise, to intentionally hurt another player, that would be a federal crime. This would not only include outsiders, but also players, coaches and other team staff and personnel.
The NFL said payoffs went to 22 to 27 defensive players for inflicting game-ending injuries on targeted opponents. It was said that knockouts were worth $1,500 and cart-offs $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs. The investigation identified players like Cam Newton, Brett Farve, Kurt Warner and Aaron Rogers to be targets for the Saints bounty.
The bounty investigations in the NFL and other sports are going to be as big, if not bigger, than the drug scandals in Major League Baseball. What started off as fun and games in the minds of many players could possibly land some of this in jail.
We’ll keep you posted!
*items in this story where gathered from the Associated Press