Report: NFL investigating Redskins' alleged bounty program

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is stopped by Washington Redskins outside linebacker...

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is stopped by Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, inside linebacker London Fletcher and free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in the first quarter of their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Dec. 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

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The NFL will reportedly investigate claims that the Washington Redskins had their own bounty program under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, while a former Redskin has said such programs are run across the league.

A league source told The Washington Post of the pending scrutiny of the Redskins, and said it is routine policy for the league to investigate accusations of rule-breaking.

The NFL announced Friday an investigation revealed the New Orleans Saints ran a “pay-for-performance” program the past three seasons under Williams as a defensive coordinator, which included incentives to knock out opposing players by injuring them. Reports then surfaced in The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune that the Redskins had run a similar program under Williams during his time there between 2004-2007.

The Post cited five players and a former coach saying Williams ran a program to financially reward players for hits that knocked opponents out of action, and for big plays like fumble recoveries and interceptions. While the other sources spoke anonymously, former defensive end and current Redskins’ director of player development Philip Daniels spoke on the record to the Post.

Former Redskins safety and current commentator Matt Bowen also reported the program on the record, in a column in the Chicago Tribune.

Like Daniels, Bowen defended Williams, but Bowen also wrote in the Tribune column that such activity is spread throughout the league.

“Bounties, cheap shots, whatever you want to call them, they are a part of this game,” Bowen wrote. “It is an ugly tradition that was exposed Friday with Williams front and center from his time coaching the defense in New Orleans. But don’t peg this on him alone. You will find it in plenty of NFL cities. Win or else. That’s the drill.”

The system described by the former Redskins was similar to the one that drew the league’s scrutiny with the Saints, when it revealed 22 to 27 defensive New Orleans players participated in the program from 2009-11. Providing non-contractual cash incentives for any play is outlawed by the NFL, but commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement it was “particularly troubling” to see the incentives for injury-inducing hits.

Former Redskins head coach and Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs told the Post he was not aware of the team’s bounty program while he was there with Williams in 2004-07.

“Just let me say this: I’m not aware of anything like this when I was coaching there,” Gibbs told the paper. “I would never ask a player to hurt another player. Never.”

Williams, who joined the St. Louis Rams as their defensive coordinator this offseason, issued a statement of apology for his role in the Saints’ bounty program Friday.

“I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints’ fans for my participation in the ’pay for performance’ program while I was with the Saints,” Williams said in the statement. “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”


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