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What is Bounty-Gate?

A term used to describe the 2012 scandal involving the New Orleans Saints players and coaches and a secret fund that paid players a bonus (or bounty) if they inflicted injuries on opposing players.  The NFL started investigating the bounty program in 2010, but it wasn't until March 2nd, 2012 that the NFL publicly announced that there was 'irrifutable evidence' of the program and as such suspensions would follow.

Coaches/Front office staff suspensions:
Greg Williams (Defensive Coordinator) - Indefinite ban from NFL
Sean Payton (Head Coach) - Suspended for the 2012 season
Mickey Loomis (General Manager) - Suspended for first 8 games
Joe Vitt (Asst. Head Coach) - Suspended for first 6 games

Originally Announced Player suspensions:
Jonathan Vilma - Suspended for entire 2012 season
Anthony Hargrove - Suspended 8 games
Will Smith - Suspended 4 games
Scott Fujita - Suspended 3 games

On September 7th, 2012 a special pannel overruled the suspensions after finding that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell overstepped his boundry in hearing the players appeal against the original punishment.  The players were subsequently reinstated, and eventually on December 11th, 2012 the players were vacated of all discipline by special hearings officer and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Sporting Charts explains Bounty-Gate

Aside from the morality of paying a player to injure an opponent, the NFL has always forbid "non-contract bonuses" in the league constitution.  They have maintained that it could be used as a way to circumvent the salary cap and hurt the integrity of the game.

While there's no specific evidence, former NFL players like ESPN Analyst Cris Carter have come out publically to say bounties have been part of the game for ages, and that he used to pay "protection money" to teammates.

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