WASHINGTON (FNN Media) — Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for implementing a “bounty system” during his time with the New Orleans Saints.
Following a league-led investigation into the allegations, the NFL concluded Williams endangered player safety over a three-year period by paying players for “knock-out” hits and hits that resulted in an injury requiring the opponent to be carted off the field.
Williams’ program operated during the 2009-11 seasons, the NFL found.
According to the league, Williams placed specific bounties on Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner.
In addition, several players pledged their own funds toward the bounties. One specific instance found Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2010.
“We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it,” said Commissioner Goodell. “Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.”
The timing of the suspension is unfortunate for the St. Louis Rams who made Williams their new defensive coordinator this offseason.
A report by The Washington Post found Williams had a similar system from 2004-07 while he was the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.
Former players, who largely spoke under the condition of anonymity, described a system in which they were compensated from hundreds to thousands of dollars as “a little extra incentive” for delivering “kill shots” during the game. The largest sum paid at one time was believed to be $8,000.
Joe Gibbs, who was the head coach of the team at the time, denied having knowledge of such a system.
The NFL investigated the allegations of Williams’ infractions while he was with Washington, but was unable to find enough evidence to support the claims.
The league will only investigate further if additional information is brought light. Commissioner Goodell reserved the right to take disciplinary action against the Redskins, or other clubs, if that situation arises.
The NFL continued its investigation into the Saints “bounty system” after announcing their initial findings earlier this month. Commissioner Goodell met with a number of key individuals in the case, including Williams.
After concluding its investigation, the league informed the Saints they were imposing the following disciplinary measures in addition to Williams’ suspension:
- Team fined $500,000
- Forfeiture of second round draft picks in of the 2012 and 2013
- Head Coach Sean Payton suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective April 1
- General Manager Mickey Loomis suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season
- Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season
Commissioner Goodell said he will review Coach Williams’ indefinite suspension at the conclusion of next season. A determination as to a possible reinstatement will be made at that time.
A decision on his future could hinge largely on the amount of cooperation he gives the league during further proceedings.
Further disciplinary action may be announced against individual players.
“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” Goodell said. “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.”