NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to fans on Friday and put an emphasis on keeping bounties out of football.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Goodell explained that 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."
This offseason, Goodell suspended members of the Saints for running a bounty program from 2009-11. Head coach Sean Payton and LB Jonathan Vilma received year-long suspensions. GM Mickey Loomis is suspended for eight games and interim head coach Joe Vitt six games. Anthony Hargrove was suspended for eight games, Scott Fujita for three games and Will Smith for four games.
“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,” Goodell went on to say. “The bounty prohibition plays an instrumental role in achieving that. And we are committed to holding every team, player and owner accountable.”