The New Orleans Saints’ practice of offering its players “bounties” to injure opposing players could make the team the target of lawsuits, according to legal scholars interviewed by The New York Times.
The Times looked into the issue of what legal liability the Saints team may have for ir program of paying players to actually target rival players — and really hurt them.
The story last week, with the headline “Teams Could Be Held Liable for Injuries Traced to Bounties,” should have management of the Saints quaking in their boots.
For those who don’t read the sports pages, the brouhaha is over the disclosure that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams “encouraged Saints players to injure opponents,” according to The Times. And team officials allegedly tried to cover up the outrageous bounty plan.
The bounty program became public following an investigation by the National Football League.
The news breaks even as the NFL, facing loads of lawsuits from retired players who suffered concussions, is mounting a public relations effort to prove that it has always made player safety a priority.
The Times theorizes that the Saints will face “fines, suspensions and/or the loss of draft picks” because of the bounty scandal. But two sports law professors also told the paper that the team and players could be held liable in a court of law “if an opponent can prove that a member of the Saints injured him on a play that is outside the norm for football and that the Saints player acted with reckless disregard for the opponent’s safety.”
Who did the The Times talk to to come to that conclusion? Judy Battista interviewed Matt Mitten, director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School, and Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University Law School.
The Saints “target” list included Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.