The NFL Player's Association has warned players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty investigation that they may face criminal charges related to the pay-for-hitting scandal.
According to an Associated Press report, the NFLPA has hired outside counsel for upcoming meetings with the league that will further investigate the role of specific players in the system. The league's report said up to 27 players could have been involved in the team's bounty system, but only linebacker Jonathan Vilma was named.
Most legal scholars agree that a prosecutor is unlikely to charge players for on-field acts. It's rare, both because the legal system tends to allow sports leagues to police themselves and because such cases can be tough to prosecute.
"They're difficult cases to bring, because it's hard to prove the injury was caused by a tackle with specific intent to injure, rather than a regular tackle," law professor Gabe Feldman told the AP when news of the bounty scandal broke. "We all know injuries are a part of football. There can't be legal liability anytime there is an injury. Otherwise, you can't have football."
Lawyering up is an obvious move, particularly when vengeance-happy Roger Goodell is involved in the proceedings. Like Steven Seagal, he's out for justice. Sean Payton is already banned for a year, Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely and other authority figures received varying multiple-game suspensions. Goodell isn't done assigning blame yet and it stands to reason that players like Vilma will get punishments that are equally harsh. Heck, knowing Goodell, without sound legal advice, there's a good chance players could emerge from those meetings with the Kennedy assassination pinned on them.
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