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Pash: Saints players have 'share of responsibility'

Discipline for the Saints players connected to their bounty program is coming "soon," according to NFL executive vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash. It just won't come before the weekend.

"Players were clearly participants and clearly have a share of the responsibility," Pash said to a group of reporters at the league offices on Friday regarding the Saints.

The league's two-year investigation into the Saints' bounty programs implicated as many as 27 players. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma is bracing for a lengthy suspension. Pash confirmed all 27 players are subject to discipline, unless they are no longer in the NFL. The league believes the scope of the bounty program in New Orleans was unique.

"We do not have evidence of the same character and quality as we had in New Orleans to suggest there was a program where there were specific financial incentives to injure players," Pash said.

It's unclear why there has been a delay in punishing the players. Pash expressed some frustration that the NFL Players Association has not shared any materials from the union's own investigation into bounty programs. He also wondered aloud about the union's priorities in Monday's meeting with the league.

"The focus was on defending or excusing the conduct of the players who were involved in this program," Pash said. "I think that's unfortunate. The players who could have been injured or maybe were injured are also (NFLPA) members. And they are entitled to protection. Their interests, I think, are entitled to greater consideration and greater protection than the interests of players who may have participated in these programs."

It is not unprecedented for the league to announce punishment just before the NFL draft; that happened when Ben Roethlisberger was suspended in 2010. It would not be a surprise if the league disciplined Saints players next week.

Pash's words on Friday made it clear it is only a matter of time.

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