The New Orleans Saints huddle on the field against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional playoff game on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. The team is in the limelight because of a bounty scandal. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

NFL probes coach over bounty payments

Stacey Vanek Smith Mar 5, 2012
The New Orleans Saints huddle on the field against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional playoff game on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. The team is in the limelight because of a bounty scandal. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jeremy Hobson: Now to a scandal in the NFL. League investigators met yesterday with former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He’s apologized for running a bounty scheme that rewarded players for injuring opponents.

Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek Smith has more.


Stacey Vanek Smith: For getting someone carted off the field, New Orleans Saints players were apparently paid a thousand dollars.  Knocking a player out of the game? $1500.

Still, sports economist Andy Zimbalist says the real incentive probably wasn’t money. After all, the average NFL player makes more than a million dollars a year.

Andy Zimbalist: These are the players who want more recognition, the player who’s still trying to make it who’s going to be more susceptible to this kind of environment.

The punishment from the NFL could involve hefty fines and suspensions, but the fallout from the bounty scandal could backfire in other ways says sports analyst Matt Powell. He says endorsements and merchandise sales rely heavily on fans feeling good about a team.

Matt Powell: And this may move fan sentiment in the opposite direction. So this could end up hurting some teams in the pocketbook in terms of licensed product sales and maybe even ticket sales.

Powell says football fans usually don’t mind a little unnecessary roughness, but this scandal may have crossed the line.

In New York, I’m Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.