NEW YORK -- Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the central figure in a pay-for-performance "bounty" scandal, met with NFL security Monday after reports emerged this weekend about him being involved in similar practices when he coached in Washington and Buffalo, according to a league source.
The meeting was not held at league headquarters in Manhattan and did not include Commissioner Roger Goodell or any non-security league employees.
After the league issued a report regarding its finding in the player-funded program in which monetary rewards were provided for knocking opposing players out of games and having players carted off, Williams admitted to his role while also apologizing to Saints officials and the organization. Published reports then surfaced including quotes from former players claiming that similar "bounty" programs were in place when Williams coached in Buffalo and Washington, spurring the league's summoning of Williams to New York.
Williams left the Saints after the 2011 season to join the Rams as their defensive coordinator. Now, he could be in serious trouble, with speculation that he could face a lengthy suspension and fines -- if not worse.
A league source said that while Williams is the central figure in this case, the Bills, Titans and Redskins are not being investigated. However, the Saints are very much in the crosshairs of discipline from Goodell. An initial investigation was thwarted by coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, Williams and players, only to be re-opened when new evidence surfaced, showing that this practice involved up to 27 players and was in place from 2009 to 2011.
The stonewalling of the original investigation will also impact punishment of the Saints, as will other patterns of behavior that one league official termed as "arrogance." The Saints could have draft picks taken away and fines levied, while suspensions for Payton and Loomis could be in order. Discipline will be harsh.
Goodell is expected to penalize those involved before the league meetings in Florida in late March.
A league official also said that players will not be absolved of punishment, especially because, in New Orleans, the money that went into the "bounty" pool mainly came from the pocketbooks of players. The NFL is not pleased with the players -- ranging from 22 to 27 over a three-year period -- and will treat them accordingly.
Saints owner Tom Benson also is in position to discipline Payton and Loomis. The league found that Payton knew of the bounty program but did not act to stop it. According to the NFL's report, Benson told Loomis that if a pay-for-performance program was in place, he needed to end it, only to have that request dismissed by Loomis.
Other than a statement from Benson acknowledging the league's report and saying the Saints would cooperate, the team, Payton and Loomis have been quiet about the situation.
The Rams also declined to comment on Williams' status with the team, saying they would prefer to wait until Goodell decides on disciplinary measures. Should Williams be suspended, the Rams could have assistant head coach Dave McGinnis or secondary coach Chuck Cecil take over as defensive coordinator.
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