Update of the story that has been in the news of late about the bounty placed on opposing teams’ players. The story is quite interesting and infuriating at the same time. UPDATED: Here is some leaked audio of the coach telling his players to do what??????
It is being reported that the New Orleans Saints were up to no good. Now, this is football, so there is a sliding scale here. But, the story is pretty juicy. Allegedly, the Saints were paying players to go out and try to injure certain players. I guess that scandal is the paying part. Their job is to hit people really hard, so the controversy is the money part.
Between $1000 and $1500 to injure someone doesn’t sound like a great deal. When I was a professional football player, I wouldn’t intentionally injure someone for less than $20,000. But, like most things, the standards have fallen.
Since the story just broke, we have not heard the last of this. The amount of players, if any, that were injured because of the bounty is unknown. It may not be able to be known (lot of words there).
If you were a current player that got slightly injured because of this bounty, I wonder if you speak out. You are still a player, and who wants that tied to your name.
Players are brands. If you do something really good or really bad out side of the sport you play, you will be known for that. People will then say, “Oh yeah, didn’t he play football or something…”. That would stink if you are a professional.
Let us get into some legal discussion about the topics of criminal and civil liability for the Saints’ bounty on opposing NFL players.
Criminal Liability of the Saints’ players & Criminal Liability of the Saints’ Coach
Issues to be addressed: This is a law school question. Does anyone think that a District Attorney in any state would associate themselves with this? The answer is no.
But, could they prove a conspiracy? The story will likely progress that it was discussed between more than one person. Is it illegal what the coaches wanted the players to do? Not sure. What do you think? It is definitely outside the bounds of the game. It was not a mistake. It was not part of the game. It was a special bonus of injury.
Is it illegal? What if a player had a foreign object like in wrestling that he planned to pull out? What if the player pulled out a knife? So, we can take the analogy too far.
So, a knife would make it a crime, I would argue. However, in this case the instrumentality is the helmet, I guess. This is not foreign to the sport, but used intentionally wrong (although no one could ever prove it). So, it is a weapon or could be used as one.
Personal Injury Liability of the Saints’ Coach & Personal Injury Liability of the Saints’ players
I played football (pause for cheers). I tried to hurt people on every down. If you had offered me money to do it, I would have thanked you for what I was going to do anyway.
The same goes with the players in the NFL. How could you prove that this player’s intent was to injure the player outside the acceptable rules of the game and not just negligence. It would impossible. As their lawyer, I would just show clips of my client making stupid mistakes after stupid mistakes. And then tell the jury that my client just really sucks at football. He can barely do anything correctly much less this.
Any future lawsuits will be handled under the arbitration rules with the NFL. There is just too much money involved in personal injury cases and professional sports to allow a lonely State Superior Court to mess with “their” game. The owners of NFL teams have way too much money on the line.
The best argument against arbitration is that criminal activity goes outside the bounds of the contract. You know, “I didn’t agree to this”. But, like I said, the money is just too much. Is Justice blind? No, Justice is a word for children. Money is the game.
This article is by Joseph P. McClelland.