(NEW YORK) — The New Orleans Saints have been found guilty of maintaining a “bounty” program funded primarily by players in violation of NFL rules during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons, according to the NFL on Friday.
Between 22 and 27 defensive players on the Saints, as well as former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams continued to maintain a program.
Fines, suspensions, and forfeiture of draft choices will be determined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” Goodell said in a statement. “Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings,” Goodell said. “Our security department interviewed numerous players and other individuals. At the time, those interviewed denied that any such program existed and the player that made the allegation retracted his earlier assertions. As a result, the allegations could not be proven.”
Even though Saints owner Tom Benson instructed coaches and general manager Mickey Loomis to stop the bounty during the 2011 season, it still continued according to the NFL.
“We recently received significant and credible new information and the investigation was reopened during the latter part of the 2011 season,” Goodell said.
On Friday Benson released this statement after news broke.
“I have been made aware of the NFL’s findings relative to the “Bounty Rule” and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jill Martin, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire