Se­nate to hold hear­ings on NFL ‘boun­ties’

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Se­nate will hold hear­ings look­ing into “boun­ties” one NFL team paid its play­ers to in­jure op­po­nents, a top law­maker an­nounced Thurs­day, bring­ing the foot­ball scan­dal to the halls of Congress.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, a se­nior mem­ber of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said he’ll ask for tes­ti­mony from rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all the ma­jor pro sports leagues, as well as the NCAA, which gov­erns most ma­jor col­lege ath­let­ics.

Mr. Durbin, Illi­nois Demo­crat, also said he’ll look at whether bribery laws should be ex­panded to make pay-for-in­jury boun­ties il­le­gal un­der fed­eral law.

“When an in­jury is by de­sign and is paid for, we’ve moved be­yond any def­i­ni­tion of sport,” Mr. Durbin said.

No time has been set yet for the hear­ings, which he an­nounced in a speech on the Se­nate floor.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, coaches for the New Or­leans Saints had of­fered boun­ties of $1,500 for knock­ing an op­po­nent out of a game.

Ear­lier this week, the NFL sus­pended Saints head coach Sean Pay­ton, gen­eral man­ager Mickey Loomis and de­fen­sive coach Joe Vitt, and docked the team a cou­ple of picks in up­com­ing drafts. The NFL also is­sued an in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion to Greg Wil­liams, who was the team’s top de­fen­sive coach but has since been hired by the St. Louis Rams.

League Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell will now turn his at­ten­tion to the Saints play­ers said to have been in­volved in the boun­ties.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has al­ready taken steps to try to halt boun­ties.

“We have not heard from Sen. Durbin but would be pleased to dis­cuss the mat­ter with him,” Mr. Aiello said.

Mr. Durbin said a chief area he wants to ex­plore is whether there’s a need for a fed­eral law to ban such boun­ties. Bribery in sports is al­ready a fed­eral crime be­cause Congress, us­ing its pow­ers un­der the In­ter­state Com­merce Clause of the Con­sti­tu­tion, has deemed bribes in sports an im­ped­i­ment to hon­est busi­ness.

The bribery law was passed in the wake of a point-shav­ing scan­dal in col­lege bas­ket­ball.

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