National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced steps the league is taking to prevent the paying of bounties to players to intentionally injure their opponents, including the creation of an anonymous tip line players can use to report infractions.
Goodell's announcement Wednesday came after he met with a top Democratic senator.
"We've taken very strong action to make sure they're not part of sports going forward," Goodell said at a news conference after a brief meeting with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. "And that the integrity of our game and the safety of our players is paramount. And that we're going to take very aggressive steps to protect that."
Durbin said the NFL's self-imposed measures have persuaded him to shelve a planned hearing and potential legislative remedies.
Besides the tip line, Goodell said the league would send a communication to all NFL personnel, "making it extremely clear that we have a policy, we've had a policy, and we will enforce our policies against bounties if violations occur."
In addition, a "bounties section" will be added to player handbooks, and posters promoting the tip line will be hung in locker rooms, Goodell said. Also, e-mails about the effort will be sent to fans who are registered with the NFL.
Durbin was asked by CNN why he supported the plan even though it is aimed primarily at raising awareness and didn't include real teeth to prevent bounties.
"Unlike many issues that come before us, this issue was discovered by the NFL, the investigation was initiated by the NFL, and the actions that have been taken against coaches and players was taken by the NFL," Durbin said.
"There was no denial of what happened. In fact, they aggressively pursued the information they were given. What more could I accomplish with a law? This is better; it's much better. And it's timely."
Most of the players and coaches accused of participating in bounties have denied wrong doing and are appealing the penalties Goodell handed down.
The NFL Players Association is calling on Durbin to conduct hearings on health and safety issues for players.
"We thank the Senator for his interest on these important issues," the NFLPA said in a statement. "Given this keen interest, the players hope and expect that the Commissioner and the Senator will commit to a hearing on health safety in the NFL in the near future."
Durbin said he also has been in talks with the National Collegiate Athletic Association to prevent football bounties at that level. He said the NCAA had agreed to take several steps to raise awareness about the issue.