The New Orleans Saints are facing serious punishment from the NFL after an investigation determined the team implemented an illegal bounty system to pay players for inflicting injuries on opponents.

The NFL released the following statement on the matter:

"The league's investigation determined that this improper 'Pay for Performance' program included 'bounty' payments to players for inflicting injuries on opposing players that would result in them being removed from a game.

"The players regularly contributed cash into a pool and received improper cash payments of two kinds from the pool based on their play in the previous week's game."

 The league's investigation found that between 22 and 27 players were involved, as well as assistant coach Gregg Williams. Williams administered the program, and at times, added funds to the bounty pool. The investigation also states that the bounty system took place in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

The bounty reached its peak during the Saints 2009 playoff run. The Saints won Super Bowl XLIV that year.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will determine possible punishment of the players and team. Possible punishments could include but aren't limited to suspensions, fines, and/or forfeiture of draft picks.