08 March 2012 at 16:23 BST

NFL bounty scandal to trigger law suits

Heavy tackles and hard hits are all part of the game for US gridiron players, but a so-called 'bounty system' may have put players under unwarranted risk and triggered a blitz of litigation.

NFL stars: at risk?

According to the Chicago Tribune newspaper, the National Football League recently blew the whistle on one club -- the New Orleans Saints -- after investigations found some in its management had actively encouraged hurting the opposition players so badly they would be unable to take further part in the game. Two Saints coaches have subsequently apologised for the practice.


Forcing a player to leave a game – a ‘knockout’ – could be worth $1,500, with another $1,000 available if a player had to be carried off.
These figures could double or treble depending on game importance and the opposition player targeted, with a reported $50,000 bounty pool available in some instances.
The NFL now faces hundreds of potential lawsuits from retired players who claim that not enough was done to protect them from repeated concussions.
The family of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson – who committed suicide in February 2011 – are pressing particularly hard after a post-mortem examination of his brain suggested concussions and repetitive head trauma had caused a neurodegenerative disease.

Bounty payments

Former Saints defensive team coach Gregg Williams has been fingered by the US media as the man primarily behind the bounty payments. However, it has been reported that neither head coach Sean Payton nor team general manager Mickey Loomis stepped in to stop the system, even after the NFL announced its investigation.
According to the Tribune, Mr Loomis declined to intervene even when ordered to do so by team owner, Tom Benson. Both have since apologised.

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