New Orleans Saints players and at least one assistant coach, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons, the NFL said Friday. Payoffs came for inflicting game-ending injuries.Disgusting. And it resonates in Minnesota:
Among the targets were Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, with "knockouts" worth $1,500 and "cart-offs" $1,000. Payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs, and, according to an investigation by NFL security, pool amounts reached their height in 2009 — the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.
"It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it," Williams said after the league said between 22 and 27 defensive players were involved in the program he administered, with the knowledge of coach Sean Payton...
The NFL said its findings were corroborated by multiple, independent sources... Saints players contributed cash to the pool, at times large amounts, and in some cases the money pledged was directed against a specific person, the NFL said.
Suddenly, in the Twin Cities, here came those haunting NFC title game images again, a battered Brett Favre being helped off the Superdome field after a third-quarter hit from New Orleans' Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele. That shot left the quarterback with severe pain in his left ankle, part of an afternoon during which New Orleans walloped Favre the way a bull pummels a rodeo clown.Today the Washington Post reports that the Redskins also had a "bounty" system.
The Saints received three unnecessary-roughness penalties, two for shots on Favre... After that McCray-Ayodele hit, he hobbled around and completed six of 12 passes for 87 yards in the fourth quarter. His interception with 7 seconds left in regulation might have cost the Vikings a Super Bowl trip... This past December, in a loss to New Orleans, running back Adrian Peterson took exception to the way the Saints went after him.
Photo credit: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune.
Update - comments from Fran Tarkenton re NFL football in the 1960s and 70s, published in the Wall Street Journal:
But in those 18 years, I only missed five games due to injury. My opponents wanted to beat me, and they certainly wanted to hit me to achieve that goal—but no one wanted to hurt another player deliberately...More at the link, including a comment that it might have been a "bounty" hit that ended Peyton Manning's career with the Colts.
There was no joy in seeing someone injured on the field of play, even if it gave our team a better chance to win. After all, we wanted to prove that we were the best; and to be the best, you have to beat the best—not beat the JV...
Since news of this story broke last week, I have talked to dozens of former teammates and opponents. On my Sirius XM radio show Monday night, I talked to the toughest of them all, Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik—who played every snap on both sides of the ball for the Philadelphia Eagles. The response was unanimous. They did not put bounties on other players, and those who do so are not tough—they are cowards...