Washington The Senate wants to grill the NFL about bounties. And the NBA, NHL, NCAA and Major League Baseball are invited, too.
Sen. Dick Durbin is setting up a Judiciary Committee hearing about bounties in professional football and other major sports in the wake of news that New Orleans Saints players received extra cash for hits that hurt particular opponents.
The assistant Senate majority leader, an Illinois Democrat, said Thursday he wants to examine whether federal law should make such bounty systems a crime.
“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?’” Durbin said in a telephone interview before raising the issue on the floor of the Senate.
“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,” he said.
His announcement came a day after the NFL took a harsh stand on bounties, suspending Saints head coach Sean Payton for all of next season and indefinitely banning their former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was barred for half of 2012, an assistant coach received a six-game ban, and the team also was docked two second-round draft picks and $500,000.