Senate suspends NFL bounty probe
WASHINGTON - The Senate will halt its probe into the National Football League's (NFL) bounty programs in light of reforms the league will introduce, Sen. Richard Durbin said on Wednesday.
The Illinois Democrat met privately in his Capitol Hill office with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who laid out a series of reforms that he promised to implement in time for this fall's season.
Durbin called for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on NFL bounties in March after a league investigation found that players and coaches on the New Orleans Saints paid players thousands of dollars to injure members of opposing teams. The NFL says the bounties were paid out from 2009 to 2011.
Among the measures that the league will take will be the creation of an anonymous hotline for players, coaches and executives to report such abuses. Messages about bounties will be posted in team locker rooms and added to the NFL Players Handbook, Goodell said.
Durbin endorsed the reforms saying, "It's better than anything we could've achieved.
"What I hear from them is a good-faith effort to acknowledge what happened and deal with it," Durbin said adding that he would call off the congressional investigation.
The senator also said he had been in contact with other sports leagues including the National Collegiate Athletic Association in an effort to prevent similar bounty programs.
Following the NFL's investigation, which began in 2010 and lasted until this March, Goodell suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the 2012 season and issued shorter suspensions for Saints defensive end Will Smith and former Saints Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita.
Goodell also suspended former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely and head coach Sean Payton for the season. General manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt received shorter suspensions. (Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)