Durbin the Bounty Hunter Cancels NFL Hearings
An anonymous hotline dedicated to reporting issues connected to player bounties is just one of a few reforms announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday in response to the NFL bounty program scandal. And those reforms are good enough for high ranking Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to nix holding congressional hearings on the issue.
The NFL bounty scandal began when NFL officials began investigating allegations that a number of New Orleans Saints players were getting paid to purposefully injuring opponents, cashing in on a slush fund run by players and others. Saints' head coach Sean Payton, other officials and four players have been suspended in connection with the scandal.
Durbin announced in March that he would investigate bounties in sports. Well, that's no longer needed given what Goodell has agreed to, Durbin said during a press conference Wednesday.
"The results we've come up within 90 days are dramatically better than anything that could have been achieve with in a congressional hearing, with the markup of a bill, an amendment on the floor and anything that might follow," Durbin said.
Goodell said the NFL will also: send letters to all league and team employees and players about bounties; add a section on bounties in the NFL Players' Handbook; require posters in locker rooms about bounties; and send emails to the approximately 5 million registered NFL fans about bounties and player safety.
Will that be enough? Durbin thinks so, given that the NFL discovered the problem and led an investigation. "There was no denial as to what happened here," he said.
But wait, why does Congress care about this again? Durbin explained:
"Well, it's a federal crime to influence the outcome of a professional sporting event. This bounty program is the closest to bribery in a sporting event as I could think of, and it seems an appropriate place for congressional inquiry."
And now you know.
(Photo: Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., left, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, right, talk about NFL bounties during a Wednesday press conference. National Journal/Elahe Izadi)