NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- NFL chief Roger Goodell said Friday the league is putting renewed emphasis on enforcing a ban on bounties -- "No exceptions. No excuses."
An NFL investigation concluded that the New Orleans Saints operated a bounty system in which players were paid for injuring or forcing opposing players from the game.
During the off-season, Goodell the NFL commissioner, suspended several players and team personnel, including New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who are out for the entire 2012 season. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, said to have created the program, was suspended indefinitely.
"Let me be clear: There is no place for bounties in football. No exceptions. No excuses," Goodell said in an e-mail message addressed "To NFL Fans." "Bounties are an affront to everything that competitive sports should represent. Everyone in the NFL is responsible for adhering to these rules and we are all accountable for protecting the safety of our players -- present and future."
Goodell's message mentioned the "health and safety" of the players twice. He said the ban on bounties is part of that overall concern.
"It is our job to protect, preserve, and promote the game of football that we all love," he said. "We want an exciting game featuring the world's most talented football players enjoying long and successful careers. The bounty prohibition plays an instrumental role in achieving that. And we are committed to holding every team, player and owner accountable."
The 2012 NFL regular season begins next Wednesday. The Saints begin their season Sept. 9 at home against the Washington Redskins.