[Editor’s note: Commissioner Roger Goodell has sent a letter to all fans in advance of the launch of the 2012 regular season. The full text of the letter appears below.]
The 2012 NFL regular season is about to begin, and it promises to be another exciting, competitive, and unpredictable year of football which NFL fans have come to expect every season.
Part of our responsibility in helping teams and players prepare for each NFL season is to make sure they understand and respect league policies and rules. As always, we hold everyone, including ourselves, strictly accountable for protecting the integrity of the game, starting with the health and safety of our players. This year is no exception — bringing with it a clear, consistent, and renewed emphasis on enforcing our longstanding “bounty” prohibition.
Let me be clear: there is no place for bounties in football. No exceptions. No excuses. Bounties are an affront to everything that competitive sports should represent. Everyone in the NFL is responsible for adhering to these rules and we are all accountable for protecting the safety of our players – present and future.
The bounty prohibition forbids offering or accepting any reward — cash or otherwise — for on-field misconduct, plays that incentivize or result in injury to opposing players, or for performance against an opposing player, group of players, or team. The bounty prohibition not only preserves the competitive integrity of our game, but also protects player safety by removing incentives that could lead to dangerous play or unnecessary and/or intentional injury. As a league, we will ensure that the prohibition against bounties is clearly understood and consistently enforced. Period.
We will aggressively protect the health, safety and long-term livelihood of our players, both on the field and off. We can preserve the fierce competition that makes football great, while simultaneously committing to the relentless pursuit of safer play. Our players do not make excuses on the field; we will not make them off the field.
It is our job to protect, preserve, and promote the game of football that we all love. We want an exciting game featuring the world’s most talented football players enjoying long and successful careers. The bounty prohibition plays an instrumental role in achieving that. And we are committed to holding every team, player and owner accountable.
We appreciate your interest and hope you enjoy the 2012 NFL season.