Now that the dust has settled as the shocking revelations as to how the New Orleans Saints put bounties on opposing players to encourage serious injuries, serious scrutiny needs to be given as to whether Saints coaches and players committed criminal violations for their conduct. And while some would say that the serious suspensions handed down by the NFL to Head Coach Sean Payton and others are enough, the unprecedented nature of the conduct suggests that a lot of people in the Saints organization should start looking for a really good criminal defense attorney.
Football is a contact sport. Injuries are part of the game. But it is alleged that the Saints put high prices on the heads of players so that they suffered game, season, and career ending injuries. Not only could this constitute assault, but it could also constitute conspiracy – an agreement by one or more persons to commit a criminal offense.
But where serious attention needs to be given is to racketeering laws. RICO laws, as they are better known, were designed by the federal government to stop the mafia. A careful look at what Saints players did could subject them to prosecution as a racketeering based organization as there was an ongoing agreement to commit ongoing criminal conduct for profit. Players and coaches will be shocked when they are facing double digit mandatory minimum prison sentences.
Whether prosecutors will ever take on the challenge to go after players and coaches is another story, but in the meantime, everyone involved should keep me on speed dial.