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NFL 'Pay for Pain' Scandal Destined for Courts?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The NFL 'pay for pain' scandal is growing, and it may even end up in the courts. A league investigation has unearthed a bounty program operated by 22 to 27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints.

The players contribute to a pool and are paid $1,500 for a knockout, and $1,000 for a cart-off.

They're getting paid to knock opposing players out of the game. And if the reports are correct, similar programs exist (or existed) at the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.

As part of its official announcement, the NFL explained that it plans to discipline individual players and/or the Saints. The 'pay for pain' scheme violates a host of league and contractual rules, putting player safety at risk. Commissioner Goodell is thus considering fines, suspensions and forfeiture of draft choices.

Criminal prosecutors, if they choose to get involved, may add assault and battery charges to that list.

This may seem like a strange possibility -- football players consent to physical contact, including hits that may cause severe injury, right? They do, but they also don't.

Players consent to hits within the rules of the game -- hits that use an acceptable amount of force to stop a player from receiving or blocking the ball. They do not consent to hits that are intentionally designed to cause severe harm. They do not consent to hits that are so excessive in force that they are meant to take a player out of the game.

Consent is limited, and 'pay for pain' may have crossed the line. Stay tuned here at FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty to see if the courts get involved.

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