Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday assured him the league was taking steps to project player safety and the league’s integrity in the wake of an ongoing scandal involving player bounties.
After an afternoon meeting at the Capitol with Mr. Goodell, the Illinois Democrat said he would not go ahead with a planned hearing to investigate bounty programs in the NFL and other sports leagues.
“The NFL has taken the issue of bounties in professional football seriously and has been open and willing to take additional steps to protect player safety and football’s integrity,” Mr. Durbin said.
Mr. Durbin said the commissioner promised his league would implement the following reforms:
• Mr. Goodell will write a letter to all league employees, team employees and players regarding bounties.
• Inclusion of a new “bounties section” in the NFL players handbook.
• Creation of an anonymous hotline to encourage players to report issues relating to bounties. Posters in team locker rooms will address bounties and include the hotline information.
• An email sent to all registered NFL fans – estimated to be more than 5 million people – discussing bounties, player safety and integrity of the game.
• The commissioner has committed to ensuring that NFL policies – including its bylaws and constitution – sufficiently prohibit bounty programs from a safety perspective.
Mr. Durbin requested the meeting with Mr. Goodell after reports that New Orleans Saints team members were rewarded financially for injuring opposing players in a bounty program that spanned a number of seasons. In March, the NFL suspended the team’s head coach, defensive coordinator and general manager for their involvement in the alleged bounty program. The team was also fined $500,000 and lost second-round draft picks for two years. Four individual players were suspended for their alleged participation.
Mr. Durbin also in March said he would investigate the issue of bounties in sports and look at steps to help ensure player safety and the integrity of the game.