NFL hits crush-for-cash bounty scandal

Jimmy Graham #80 of New Orleans Saints pushes away from Carlos Rogers #22 of the San Francisco 49ers and goes 66 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter during the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images / AFP)
The American National Football League has handed down unprecedented punishment after it emerged bonuses were being paid to players who injure others. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has become the first Coach in NFL history to be suspended.

Payton will miss the whole of next season without pay, while the team's former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who now works for the St. Louis Rams, has been banned indefinitely. Punishment for the players involved will be decided at a later date.

“There is a tremendous amount of information corroborated by several different sources that's very clear that this was happening on a regular basis,” stressed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “It was clearly out of control, that they identified specific players and targeted them for injury. That's simply unacceptable in the NFL and in any game of football."

The NFL say "knockouts" were worth $ 1,500 and "cart-offs" $ 1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.

All payouts for specific performances in a game, including interceptions or causing fumbles, are against NFL rules. The NFL warns teams against such practices before each season.

However, in the aftermath of the revelations about the Saints, current and former players from various teams talked about that sort of thing happening frequently – although not on the same scale as the NFL found in New Orleans.

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