Criminal Issues Intentional Torts

New Orleans Saints put Bounty on Opponents

The following article was written by Cyle Kiger.

The 2009 NFL champions have potential legal infractions coming for puting “bounties” on opposing players.  In Minnesota, Brett Favre was arguably more popular than Adrian Peterson for a single season, and it sickens me that an NFL team would reward players for injuring top-tier players.  

Who dat dirty team? The New Orleans Saints.  

In the league’s investigation, between 22 and 27 defensive players were in on the bounty program led by Gregg Williams.  The pools of money reached $50,000 or more in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.  Throughout the season, “knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” were worth $1,000, and in the playoffs the reward doubled or tripled.  The investigation stated that the players contributed cash into a pool and received improper cash benefits, not specified in the players’ contracts, based on their play in the previous week’s game.  

Some players that were interviewed did not regret taking part in the program.  Instead, playing tough and pushing the envelope was a part of Williams’ system.  Football is a contact sport, and don’t get me wrong, I love the hits, but watching the NFC Championship game, it was clear that the Saints defense was targeting Favre.  Several late hits went uncalled, and fortunately Favre was not hurt, but it did not change the outcome of the game.  

Commissioner Goodell will be holding disciplinary proceedings for the team and players involved.  ESPN reports that the disciplines could include fines, suspensions and decreased draft picks.  

Some of the legal implications outlined by Sports Illustrated could result in criminal charges, personal injury claims, tax evasion, contract termination for cause and false advertising.

A brief overview of the possible legal implications:

Criminal Charges:

Battery- Intentional use of force upon another without that person’s consent.  The Saints player(s) battered opposing players.  Football is a contact sport, and opponents assume  the risk in participating.  However, is assumption of risk a solid defense if the Saints players intended to go out on the field to injure others?  

Conspiracy- when two or more persons plan to commit a crime, such as battery.  Williams and his players would be considered to have possibly conspired to commit battery.

Personal Injury Claim:

Players injured by the Saints could file a suit for personal injury.  Players do not normally file suits for on-field hits.  A bounty may change that; a player being targeted by a “hit-man” could very well sue because that is not what he signed up for when he signed his uniform player contract with his respective team.

Tax Evasion

Players who received the bounty money are subject for tax evasion because it is taxable income that was likely not reported to the IRS.  

Contract Termination For Cause:

It would be necessary for Saints owner Tom Benson to fire players, coaches and personnel who participated in the bounty scheme.  Termination for cause would be necessary because the people involved were committing tortious acts.

False Advertising

The Saints could be sued by fans that attended games because consumers pay to see competitive football, not hit men targeting players with the intent to injure.  

Regardless of the fallout to come, scandals like “Spygate” and now this situation should not arise

In a highly regulated league, injuring people on purposeshould not be taken lightly by the league or by anybody hurt from the previous seasons.  It’s disgusting on the part of players and coaches alike.  

I may be a tad biased against the Saints for the devastating loss my Vikings endured in ’09, but all levels of the Saints organization needs to see justice.  Saints players that received money from the ‘bounty’ need to see criminal charges. This should be headline news for weeks to come leading up to the draft.