In order to prevent the imposition of bounties on players who complain about bounties, the NFL will create a vehicle for the anonymous reporting of the existence of bounties.
After Wednesday’s meeting between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Goodell announced that a tip line will be created for anyone who wishes to let the league know about the existence of bounties, according to Ted Barrett of CNN.com
“We’ve taken very strong action to make sure they’re not part of sports going forward,” Goodell said. “And that the integrity of our game and the safety of our players is paramount. And that we’re going to take very aggressive steps to protect that.”
Goodell’s message did enough to persuade Durbin to scuttle a plan to conduct a full-blown hearing on bounties in pro sports.
“Unlike many issues that come before us, this issue was discovered by the NFL, the investigation was initiated by the NFL, and the actions that have been taken against coaches and players was taken by the NFL,” Durbin said.
“There was no denial of what happened. In fact, they aggressively pursued the information they were given. What more could I accomplish with a law? This is better; it’s much better. And it’s timely.”
And now perhaps we know why the league moved so aggressively against the Saints coaches and the players. The NFL knew that it needed to create the impression that swift and decisive action was being taken, even if the evidence on which the effort to punish the players is based possibly contains very real flaws.
Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see whether the tip line is used to report actual bounty systems, or whether disgruntled players will embellish the facts in order to cause problems. If it’s truly anonymous, there will be no accountability whatsoever for making false charges. And false charges inevitably will be made.