"Bounties" coach meets with league officials

Mon Mar 5, 2012 10:40pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gregg Williams, the coach at the center of a scandal involving bounties paid for big hits on opposing players, met with National Football League investigators Monday in advance of a decision about punishments over the practice.

The league made no official comment on Monday's talks, which came after former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Williams admitted his culpability following the NFL's announcement of its findings from an intensive investigation.

Reports over the weekend also revealed that Williams ran "pay-for-performance" schemes with players in previous NFL coaching stops in Tennessee, Washington and Buffalo.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has proclaimed player safety as a top concern for the league, could hand down heavy fines, suspensions and forfeiture of draft picks by New Orleans.

Goodell did not attend Monday's meeting with Williams, who was recently hired as defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, the NFL's official website nfl.com reported.

The punishment, expected to be announced before a league owners meeting at the end of the month, is expected to be severe, reflecting the NFL's frustration that warnings it issued to the Saints over suspicions about the practice were ignored.

According to the NFL's report, team owner Tom Benson told General Manager Mickey Loomis that if a pay-for-performance program was in place he needed to end it, only to see the program continue to operate, the league's website said.

The NFL has been trying to improve its image on the subject of safety in the face of lawsuits by former players over concussion injuries.

The NFL Players Association has also resisted the league's interest in adding two games to the regular season schedule for a total of 18, citing concerns about an increase in injuries.   Continued...

Washington Redskins defensive coach Gregg Williams (R) talks to Washington linebacker Lemar Marshall before their NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Landover, Maryland October 1, 2006.     Photo Taken October 1, 2006.     REUTERS/Gary Cameron