Illinois Sen. calls for congressional hearing on NFL bounties
“Jog my memory. Did Sen. Durbin call for a Senate hearing when his home-state Bears were selling drugs?”
That’s the message U.S. Sen. David Vitter has (via his Twitter account) for his Senate colleague Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, who announced Thursday that a Senate subcommittee will schedule a hearing on the NFL bounty scandal that’s landed Saints head coach Sean Payton with a year-long suspension.
According to a report from The Times-Picayune, Durbin, speaking on the Senate floor, said Thursday that the bounty systems are “reprehensible” and relayed concerns about other teams having similar programs in place.
The “BountyGate” scandal, which revealed that the New Orleans Saints defensive players were paid bonuses for injuring opponents, came to an ugly head this week when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Payton is suspended for a year without pay for allowing the bounty program to continue. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the brains behind the bounty who was slated to join the St. Louis Rams coaching staff next season, is suspended indefinitely.
The congressional hearing will summon officials from the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and the NCAA. It’s set to take place some time after the Easter recess:
In a Senate floor speech, Durbin credited the NFL for imposing stiff penalties in the Saints case, including a season-long suspension for head coach Sean Payton.
“Aggressiveness and competitiveness is an integral part of many sporting contests, but bribing players to intentionally hurt their opponents cannot be tolerated,” Durbin said.
Some members of the Louisiana congressional delegation didn’t take kindly to Durbin’s plan to conduct a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime.
“I won’t let him single out our Saints,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans. “A congressional hearing, really?”
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said while the bounty issue is a “serious matter, the NFL has taken decisive action on player safety. The Senate has many more pressing challenges before it that we must focus on.”
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