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Published on 03/05/2012 at Mon Mar 05 12:00.
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The New Orleans Saints and their former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, have come under intense scrutiny over the past few days for running a bounty system with their defensive players.  The system operates as follows: make a big defensive play (i.e. knock somebody out) and you get rewarded with cash by your coaches and/or teammates.

The media — and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — have come across as being shocked and horrified at the news of bounties operating in the NFL, but in reality, such operations are a part of the NFL and have been for a long, long time.  We at BT do not condone NFL bounties which go against the league’s rules, but we also do not deny that they have been apart of the game and nearly all thirty-two teams probably operate, or at one time operated, bounty systems.

Their is no evidence to suggest that the Denver Broncos themselves reward their players for vicious hits — and we are not accusing them of operating such a system — but who’s to say that the Broncos don’t run an operation similar, but on a smaller scale, to that of what the Saints operated?  Before he became Denver’s defense coordinator in 2011, Dennis Allen was New Orleans’ secondary coach while the Saints’ bounty program was taking place.

When Williams, New Orleans’ defensive coordinator, was coaching Jacksonville’s defense in 2008 under then-Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio (Denver’s current defensive coordinator), he probably rewarded his player’s for knockout hits under Del Rio’s watch.

(Image courtesy of CBS4.)

Last pre-season in a game against the Buffalo Bills, Broncos’ rookie safety Rahim Moore hit receiver Donald Jones so hard that the knocked him out.  The hit [video] caused Moore’s teammates and coaches to go ecstatic, and the referee to throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After the play, Broncos’ veteran safety Brian Dawkins congratulated Moore on his first big hit in the NFL while cornerback Champ Bailey argued with the officials that the play should not have been penalized.  After the game, Coach John Fox did not condemn the hit, while being careful to not comment in a way that would upset the league’s front office.

“I’m not going to fault him [for the hit],” said Fox before adding that he didn’t think it was a helmet-to-helmet hit.  “They viewed it as a penalty,” concluded Fox, obviously hinting at his disagreement with the ruling.

Whether Moore’s teammates or coaches financially rewarded him for his hit is unknown, and there’s really no way of knowing.  But the point is, what the NFL and media condemned, Moore’s teammates and coaches praised, sending a mix-reaction to a young player.

At the end of the day, any player is going to listen to his coaches and veteran teammates above the league’s commissioner, especially if he is compensated for doing so.  Right or wrong, players being rewarded for making plays that they are coached to make has been going on for years.  The Saints are not the only team doing this.  Tthey were just the first team caught.

What’s your take on the situation? Were you aware of bounties in football, or were you surprised when you first heard about the Saints’ operation?

  • Anonymous

    What does Moore’s hit have to do with bounties?  What do bounties have to do with coaches and teammates giving a player a pat on the back for doing a good job?  If you want to whine about hard hits why not pull up Atwater’s hit on Okoye.  You can pull up TD’s special teams hit in Tokyo that got him noticed.  Trying to tie Moore’s hit to bounties is just silly.   

  • Anonymous

    I think it was a compare/contrast example where the team celebrated the hit and the League penalized it, showing a difference in the cultures of the players/coaches and the League front office.  Whether it is game balls, cash, trophies etc., every team has a “performance” program and it is not just a “pat on the back”.

  • http://Facebook.com/BroncosZone Jon

    Exactly.

  • http://Facebook.com/BroncosZone Jon

    Sorry if I came across as whining about Moore’s hit, that was not my intention. I personally thought it was a clean hit.

    And Davis and Atwater’s respective hits are among the greatest of all time, in my book.

  • areferee

    The National Football League is a tough, physical game where clean, hard hits and even injuries are a part of the game.

    Bounties are not and never have been. 

    The situation in New Orleans and any other location including the Broncos, if it applies, where there is a systematic financial reward for intentionally injuring another player should be severely punished and every individual and organization associated with it sanctioned.

    Any position that falls short of that dramatic action, including the implication in this piece, is, in this poster’s opinion, detrimental to all of sports, the league and the game of football.

  • Anonymous

    What does any of that have to do with bounties on players?   

  • Anonymous

    The point is that there is a “program” in every every program, it just usually doesn’t get to the point of injuring players for rewards. You are correct that causing injury on purpose is not acceptable, ever. What is acceptable and has always been the case is rewarding big plays, which is and has been done at every level of the sport. How many times have you screamed at the tv for someone to “take him out” when a RB or WR or QB is tearing us up? You are not asking for an illegal hit, but for someone to step up and knock them into next week, same thing on the sideline when they are screaming for “someone to make a play”. You think when Doom hit Brady he wasn’t given some kind of reward from the players or team? Dirty play should not be rewarded but big plays should. Like I said before, every team is cringing hoping that the league is keeping the scope of this investigation to one coach.

  • Anonymous

     If that was your point then you would have been better served pointing out the “go to war” mentality exhibited by players.  That is the more troubling aspect of what is nothing more than a game.  Nothing gets under my skin more than these clowns yapping how they’re “soldiers” and “going to war”. They’re not.  Most of them wouldn’t survive boot camp.

  • Anonymous

    In the real world you go to jail for doing that.

  • Anonymous

    Please, they would destroy boot camp…it’s the whole put your life on the line for a soldiers paycheck they could not fathom…and probably the mess hall food and MRE’s.

  • http://Facebook.com/BroncosZone Jon

     Ben Garland would.

  • http://thingsatrexdoes.tumblr.com Mike Birtwistle

    Just about to write almost the exact same comment.  So I thought I’d save myself the typing and just say I agree.

  • http://thingsatrexdoes.tumblr.com Mike Birtwistle

    Just about to write almost the exact same comment.  So I thought I’d save myself the typing and just say I agree.

  • areferee

    I don’t disagree with your position on clean hard play, as I stated in my post.

  • Anonymous

    That is laughable.  The entire physical and mental toll would crush most.  None of them would survive Parris Island, basic combat training or infantry training school.  I rarely had bad bad food from the chow hall.  But that was when we had actual cooks and did mess duty instead of caterers.  

  • Anonymous

    Might.  There is a whole different mental and physical aspect to boot camp than what goes on at the service academies or football programs.  It is like sticking a body builder in a boxing ring with a welter-weight.