Union retains law firm for players in Saints 'bounty' case

The NFL Players Association has retained the international law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski to represent players in the league's investigation into the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" program.

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The NFL announced Monday that it would uphold its discipline of Saints coach Sean Payton (suspended for the 2012 season), general manager Mickey Loomis (eight-game suspension) and assistant coach Joe Vitt (six-game suspension).

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora the firm was hired not to represent any individual players but to "provide the best possible representation" to the union in the bounty case. The law firm will work with NFLPA lawyers to "assist with all of the players allegedly involved" in the bounty case, Atallah said.

NFL Network's Albert Breer reported last week that the league and NFLPA met for just more than two hours to discuss potential player punishments in the "bounty" case. The union was represented by its own attorneys, Richard Berthelsen and Heather McPhee, as well as Fulbright & Jaworski lawyer Richard Smith at the meeting. The NFL was represented by senior vice president of law and labor policy Adolpho Birch, as well as director of investigations Joe Hummel and head of security Jeff Miller.

The league still has to determine if players who were involved in the bounty program, which ran from the 2009 to 2011 seasons, also will be disciplined.

As many as 27 players could be sanctioned for their role in the scandal, the NFL has said.

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