The NFL Players Association released a statement Thursday afternoon in which it pressed the league and the New Orleans Saints for help in conducting its own investigating of the “bounty” practices that landed the team unprecedented penalties from the NFL this week.
“NFLPA leadership looks forward to meeting with the Commissioner to discuss the League's 'Bounty' investigation,” said the NFLPA statement. “To date, neither the League, nor the Saints, have helped us facilitate interviews with members of management or the coaching staff. We expect the League to provide all information so that we can ensure a fair process for all who were involved.”
On Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued strict punishments against the Saints for a program that offered financial incentives to players who knocked opponents out of games. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year without pay, former defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, and general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight games of the 2012 season.
The team was also fined $500,000 and will lose their second-round picks in the next two NFL drafts.
Goodell indicated Wednesday that he would listen to recommendations from the NFLPA before setting punishment for the players involved in the bounty activities.
The NFLPA isn’t the only group that wants its own investigation. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin on Thursday said he is setting up a Judiciary Committee hearing about bounties in major sports in the wake of this scandal. The Illinois Democrat, the assistant Senate majority leader, wants to examine whether bounty programs should be considered a crime under federal law. He said he intends to ask representatives from the NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA to testify at the hearing.