Blog Entry

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:10 pm
According to the NFL, New Orleans coach Sean Payton didn't try to stop the bounty program, while owner Tom Benson, center, did try but ultimately failed.  (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

In a stunning announcement, the NFL has released the news of an investigation into a team-wide bounty program in New Orleans in which at least one coach and about two dozen players conspired to intentionally hurt opponents and knock them out of the game for money.

Between 22 and 27 players, and at least one assistant coach maintained this “pay for performance” bounty program, violating league rules in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

And the knowledge of the program reaches all the way into the owners box. Saints owner Tom Benson -- who was cited by the league as giving his “immediate and full cooperation to investigators” -- told general manager Mickey Loomis to end the program immediately when he became aware of it in 2011. According to the NFL, “the evidence showed that Mr. Loomis did not carry out Mr. Benson’s directions. Similarly, when the initial allegations were discussed with Mr. Loomis in 2010, he denied any knowledge of a bounty program and pledged that he would ensure that no such program was in place. There is no evidence that Mr. Loomis took any effective action to stop these practices.”

According to the NFL, the funds of the bounty pool -- to which players regularly contributed and which was administered by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the Rams -- might have reached as high as $50,000 during the 2009 playoffs. If a player knocked out an opponent, they received $1,500. If an opponent had to be taken off on a cart, a player was paid $1,000. Those payouts could double or triple during the playoffs.

“Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Vikings,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Our security department interviewed numerous players and other individuals. At the time, those interviewed denied that any such program existed and the player that made the allegation retracted his earlier assertions. As a result, the allegations could not be proven. We recently received significant and credible new information and the investigation was re-opened during the latter part of the 2011 season.” 

The NFL also found that coach Sean Payton was not a direct participant in the bounty program but that he didn’t make an attempt to learn about it or stop it when NFL investigators began asking about it.

Now, it’s up to Goodell to dole out the possible punishment. He has told the Saints that he will hold more proceedings and meet with the NFLPA and individual player leaders to discuss the appropriate discipline.

The league notes that “the discipline could include fines and suspensions and, in light of the competitive nature of the violation, forfeiture of draft choices. … Any appeal would be heard and decided by the commissioner.”

Said Goodell: “The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players. The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity.

“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.”

Here's Benson's statement on the matter: "I have been made aware of the NFL's findings relative to the 'bounty rule' and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans."

For what it's worth, here is one of the last attempts of Warner's career.

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Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:35 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

I know I see things differently but if an employee of a business I owned (I don't , but if I did) directly violated a direct order I gave, the employee would be unemployed within 5 minutes of my finding out about it. Seems the Saints colors just turned from Gold to 'yellow' (with no criticism directed toward another NFL team with Black and Yellow)

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:03 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

I downplay the charges a little bit because with an offense like they have...why are they worried about taking players out.  If they are able to play their game, there shouldn't be an issue. 

Don't downplay anything man.  When the Saints OWNER isn't fighting the charges you know the NFL has an unbelievable amount of proof and some pretty crazy evidence.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:02 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

I got $50,000 for any player who paralyzes Michael Vick and Ray Lewis, $100,000 if they kill them

I highly doubt that you "got" 50 or 100 thousand dollars.  As a matter of fact I doubt you would even be approved for a 50 thousand dollar mortgage let alone actually have any money.   Sorry, but stupid posts like yours make us wonder a lot about you....

Since: Jul 29, 2011
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:52 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

This is why I would laugh when someone like Hines Ward would cry about player safety during an 18 game season.  Obviously, it's not a huge concern amongst all the players.

Since: Sep 3, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:34 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

There's no vindication for the VIKES they got outplayed

Really? 485 total yards of offense for the Vikings, versus 257 from the Aint's, despite being +4 in the turnover margin. It's pretty clear the Saints got outplayed, but caught a break with the 12 man penalty and then a throw when Favre should've ran. Either way it's over with, time for the Saints to receive some punishment which I hope is some draft picks for such a lame program to run. 

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:30 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

I don't think you know what vindication means:<br /><br />Vikes fans said Saints players wer playing dirty<br /><br />+ Everyone said, "no they were't" "your team just got out played" (which in itself is laughable)<br /><br />+ Story comes out that in fact, the Saints team was playing dirty<br /><br />

-<br /><br />= Vindication <br /><br />Anyways.. its over, History is what history is.  Enjoy that tainted ring. 

Since: Sep 26, 2010
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:11 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

Any boffins with too much time on their hands - challenge for you:

- Analyse defensive player's statistics on "big hits" where the intention is to knock the stuffing out of someone, as opposed to a simple ball-and-all tackle.

- Reference that list of players against their contracts

I would think that most players on the defensive side of the ball are paid to intentionally hurt their opponent.  If not, lose the padding and helmets ladies.  Other codes of football exist without the pads. 

Or NFL be real - we all love the hard hits and contact.  You are just covering yourself against more lawsuits for head trauma and degenerative brain conditions in future.  The Saints were just dumb enough to give it all a name.  Everyone else just calls it defence.

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:08 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

So Smith blindsides a QB, laughs, and goes to the bench looking for congratulations for his "big hit".  What a scum, you want congratulations, take on a blocker, faceing you head to head and take him out, then look for pats on the back, candy ass.  If the article is correct he probably collected about $3000 for the playoff game.  Wow, a guy making millions is ready to purposely injury another player just to collect $1500.  They should fine each player 500 times what they collected in these bounties, the game is dangerous enough by accident without people trying to go out and hurt others.  If teh opposing player is better than you and the ONLY way you can win is to know him out of the game, YOU NEED TO RETIRE, or practice and GET BETTER.

Since: Jul 5, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:52 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

This story is quite funny.  Getting incentive pay for knocking players out of the game.  Did they lose money if they got knocked out of the game for trying to knock someone else out. 

I agree that this should not be allowed from the fan perspective.  We are looking for good games with all the all-star players and may the best team win! 

I downplay the charges a little bit because with an offense like they have...why are they worried about taking players out.  If they are able to play their game, there shouldn't be an issue. 

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:41 pm

NFL: N.O. had bounty program to injure opponents

I am a Saints fan, but that is totally classless.  The Saints should be fined as a team, and so should Gregg Williams.  Idiots yelling about this being wussified are just that; idiots trying to get their jollies off watching someone else get intentionally hurt.  The game is rough enough without players going out with the intention to injure other players.  Play the game and may the best team win.  No one is talking about touch football, just fair football played the right way. 

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