U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin addresses U.S. foreign policy in the...

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin addresses U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa during a talk hosted by Urbana-Champaign Peace Initiative at McKinley Foundation in Champaign, Ill. (March 10, 2012) Credit: AP

The Senate wants to grill the NFL about bounties. The NBA, NHL, NCAA and Major League Baseball are invited, too.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is setting up a Judiciary Committee hearing about bounties in pro football and other major sports in the wake of news that Saints players received extra cash for hits that hurt particular opponents. The assistant Senate majority leader said Thursday he wants to examine whether federal law should make such bounty systems a crime.

"If this activity were taking place off of a sporting field, nobody would have a second thought [about whether it's wrong]. 'You mean, someone paid you to go out and hurt someone?' " Durbin said in a telephone interview before raising the issue on the floor of the Senate.

His announcement came a day after the NFL took a harsh stand on bounties, suspending Saints coach Sean Payton for next season and indefinitely banning their former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was barred for half of 2012, an assistant coach got a six-game ban, and the team also was docked two second-round draft picks and $500,000.

A person familiar with the situation said there are three strong candidates on the Saints staff to step in as interim coach: defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

Around the league

The Bears agreed to a four-year deal with free-agent running back Michael Bush . . . Free-agent receiver Andre Caldwell said he joined the Broncos largely because they had signed Peyton Manning . . . A source said linebacker Stephen Tulloch agreed to a five-year deal worth $25.5 million to remain with the Lions.

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