Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 4/2/12

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stands on the field prior to Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The NFL Players Association has informed the players involved in the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" case that criminal charges may be levied - and that it hired outside counsel to represent them if needbe.

Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn't not provided a verdict in regard to the players - but suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for one full season on March 21 for his role.

New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis was banned eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended six contests. Former defensive coordinator was banned for at least one full season.

The appeals process for these punishments is expected to begin this week.

According to The Associated Press, the NFL has said that 22 to 27 defensive players have taken part in the bounty program over the last three years. Thousands of dollars in bonuses have been paid for hits that knocked potential targets out of games.

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