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Dick Durbin meets with Roger Goodell, calls off bounty hearing

WASHINGTON -- The No. 2 Senate Democrat is calling off a proposed hearing on bounties in professional sports because he is satisfied with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's response to the issue, including setting up an anonymous hotline.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois met with Goodell on Wednesday, about three months after Durbin said he wanted Congress to examine whether federal law should make it a crime to have a bounty system such as the one the NFL says the New Orleans Saints ran from 2009-11.

"What I hear from them now is, it's going to be clear: The actions that have been taken against some are going to be taken against others if they violate these basic rules that are being established," Durbin said. "What more could I accomplish with a law? This is better."

Among the steps that persuaded Durbin to abandon a hearing: Posters will be put in locker rooms about bounties and will include information for a hotline so players can report bounty-related activity, and there will be a new bounty section in the players' handbook.

The NFL Players Association, in a written statement, called for a hearing.

"We thank the senator for his interest on these important issues. Given this keen interest, the players hope and expect that the commissioner and the senator will commit to a hearing on health and safety in the NFL in the near future," the statement said.

"Some people question, `Well, what does Congress have to do with this?"' Durbin said. "It's a federal crime to bribe somebody to influence the outcome of a professional sporting event. This bounty program is as close to bribery to influence the outcome of an event as I can think of."

Said Goodell: "We will continue to work with the senator and his office. We will continue to evaluate our policies at every step. . We give the Senator our assurance on that, my personal assurance that I will do that."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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