NFLPA advising Bounty-gate players they could face criminal charges

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer
Could Vilma and/or Gregg Williams face criminal charges? (Getty)

With New Orleans coach Sean Payton appealing his year-long suspension to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a hearing that will occur Tuesday, there are other worries for those who were involved with the Saints bounty program. True legal worries, perhaps.

According to the AP, the NFLPA has told the players involved in the case that they could face criminal charges and that the union has hired outside counsel just in case.

The NFLPA has suggested to those players that when they're interviewed by the NFL, they should have a lawyer and a union representative with them.

NFL News, Notes
While linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been the poster boy for players who supposedly participated -- he apparently offered $10,000 to anybody who knocked then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2010 NFC title game -- you'll recall that the league has said that between 22 and 27 Saints participated in the bounty program.

With Payton suspended for a year, New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games and Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, Goodell clearly is making an example of those involved (and according to CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, the league wants the union to help devise punishments for the players).

But as far as criminal charges are concerned? One law professor doesn't see it happening.

"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," Tulane law professor Gabe Feldman said when the NFL first announced the bounty program. "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."

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