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Tag:Brett Favre
Posted on: March 8, 2012 6:13 pm
 

Hargrove says there was no bounty on Favre

Hargrove admits that he said 'Favre is done!' but that there wasn't a bounty on the former Vikes QB. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Saints' "pay for performance" bounty scheme that has led to apologies from former defensive coordinator Gregg Wiliams, head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis -- and will undoubtedly lead to stiff sanctions from the league -- has briefly taken a backseat in the never-ending news cycle thanks to Peyton Manning Mania.

But after Manning finds a new home, the Saints will still be on the hook for one of the biggest scandals in recent history: Williams rewarded players with cash payments for injuring opponents. Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported several examples, including one from the team's 2009 Super Bowl season. CBSSports.com's Josh Katzowitz wrote about it Tuesday:

"During the 2009 NFC title game vs. the Vikings -- played in January 2010 -- in which New Orleans defensive linemen Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodel high-lowed Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre and badly spraining his ankle, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, after Favre temporarily left the game, excitedly proclaimed 'Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! Favre is done!' As King also writes, 'An on-field microphone directed toward the sideline caught an unidentified defender saying, ‘Pay me my money!’”

Not good.

On Thursday, Hargrove, who left the Saints after the 2010 season and played with the Seahawks in 2011, refuted King's report.

"In regards to the hit I made on Brett Favre that has been talked about: it was one of about five times I got to him and the only one that was late," Hargrove said in a statement. "I agree it was a late hit, but in the heat of the moment I was simply trying to make a play. I can assure you that when I got up, I was thinking two things, one, that I cost my team, and two, that I might have just cost myself some money if the NFL fined me.

"To put things in perspective, I received a game ball for my play that day and yet got fined while receiving nothing and expecting to receive nothing for the play some keep referencing. Kudos to Brett, he even asked me if that was all I had! Gotta love him."

Hargrove makes clear that he is speaking only for himself and admits that his "Favre is done!" comments were clearly in bad taste.

"But did I personally want Favre INJURED?" he asked. "Absolutely and categorically NO!"

Hargrove ends with this: "I have made many mistakes in my life and have paid dearly for some of them, and the late hit and the comments were both mistakes, in my opinion. But players all over the league do the same thing every Sunday, make late hits and say stupid things. But I can say with absolute certainty that neither the late hit nor the comment have anything whatsoever to do with the issue being so hotly discussed in the media."

Favre, for his part, said he wasn't upset by the hits he took in that NFC Championship game but we suspect commissioner Roger Goodell will feel differently, particularly in light of the evidence their investigation uncovered.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:55 pm
 

More nuggets on Saints' bounties come to light

Gregg Williams wasn't the only one to get hooked by the NFL on the bounty pools in New Orleans.  (AP)
By Josh Katzowitz

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has an interesting story on the NFL’s investigation into the pay-for-performance ring* instigated by about two dozen Saints players and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and some of the details that are unearthed are worth noting because it’s the first we’ve heard of them.

*I will not call it Bounty-gate. I will not call it Bounty-gate. I will not call it Bounty-gate. 

First off, read the first two paragraphs of the story, because it paints a tremendous picture of how the rewards were distributed in front of the entire defense and how, sometimes, the Saints would urge the honoree to put the money back into the pool instead of accepting it.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Aside from that chilling color, here are few more nuggets reported by King.

-During the 2009 NFC title game vs. the Vikings -- played in January 2010 -- in which New Orleans defensive linemen Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodel high-lowed Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre and badly spraining his ankle, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, after Favre temporarily left the game, excitedly proclaimed “Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! Favre is done!”

As King also writes, “An on-field microphone directed toward the sideline caught an unidentified defender saying, ‘Pay me my money!’”

-As we know, the investigation was halted for lack of evidence -- because everybody involved basically denied the bounty pool’s existence -- but it’s interesting to note how the NFL began looking into it in the first place. After the Vikings playoff game, Minnesota officials informed the league that it had information that a bounty had been placed on Favre and a bounty had been placed on Kurt Warner the week before.

Williams, Hargrove and assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt all denied the allegations, and apparently, the investigators told Saints general manager Mickey Loomis to make sure there was no bound program. Loomis said he would.

Obviously, he didn’t. Which means he not only apparently lied to his boss but he also apparently lied to NFL officials. When the investigation started up again in last season’s playoffs, Saints owner Tom Benson told the NFL he would contact Loomis to make sure there was no bounty program.

-King also talked to Scott Fujita, who’s been very active on the player safety front. And who happened to be a big-time contributor (between $2,000-$10,000) to the bounty pool in New Orleans.

"Over the years I've paid out a lot of money for big plays like interceptions, sacks and special teams tackles inside the 20,” Fujita told King. “But I've never made a payment for intentionally injuring another player."

Still, paying into a bounty like that sort of clouds the message of player safety, doesn't it?

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Favre on Saints $10K bounty: 'I'm not pissed'

Favre got leveled more than once against New Orleans back in 2009. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

At the heart of BountyGate (and I'll personally pay someone $10 to knock that name out of play) is the 2009 NFC Championship Game, when the Saints beat Brett Favre and the Vikings. As reported by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered up $10,000 for anyone who knocked Favre out of the game.

Latest NFL News, Notes

You'd think that news might upset Favre, but he told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he was "not pissed" and that he respects Vilma as well as then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"I'm not pissed," Favre said. "It's football. I don't think anything less of those guys. I would have loved to play with Vilma. Hell of a player. I've got a lot of respect for Gregg Williams. He's a great coach. I'm not going to make a big deal about it. In all honesty, there's a bounty of some kind on you on every play. Now, in that game there were some plays that, I don't want to say were odd, but I'd throw the ball and whack, on every play. Hand it off, whack. Over and over. Some were so blatant. I hand the ball to Percy Harvin early and got drilled right in the chin. They flagged that one at least.

"I've always been friends with Darren Sharper, and he came in a couple times and popped me hard. I remember saying, 'What THE hell you doing, Sharp?' I felt there should have been more calls against the Saints. I thought some of their guys should have been fined more.''

Favre did say, however, that he was glad the "truth comes out" now with respect to how the Saints behaved on the field, although he wouldn't exactly be compelled to serve as a witness in a court of law.

"Now the truth comes out. That's good. But that's football. The only thing that really pisses me off about the whole thing is we lost the game. That's the thing about that day that still bothers me. And that's the way it goes. If they wanted me to testify in court about this, they'd be calling the wrong guy."

It would be interesting to see whether or not Favre would meet with Roger Goodell, though. It's unlikely he would, and as a retired player, it's also unlikely Goodell and the league could compel him to take a trip to New York anyway.

But it's not like they have to: replays of the game against the Saints show countless instances where Favre took late shots. They were deemed "aggressive" at the time, but with the knowledge that there was a five-figure bounty on knocking Favre out, "malicious" seems like a better description.

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Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:17 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 12:21 pm
 

Report: Williams to face fine but not suspension

Williams and Payton are in a heap of trouble. How much, exactly, will be up to Goodell. (Eye on Football Illustration/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been a busy few days for the New Orleans Saints and for all the wrong reasons. Barely two months removed from quarterback Drew Brees setting the NFL record for passing yards in season, now the organization is faced with trying to re-sign Brees and on Friday, and NFL investigation revealed that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was complicit in creating a "pay for performance" bounty system that rewarded Saints players for injuring opponents.

Williams, now with the Rams, apologized Friday night saying, in part that, "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Except that New Orleans wasn't an isolated incident. At least four former Redskins players said Williams had a similar system in Washington when he was the defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs. (On Saturday, Gibbs said he had no knowledge of it.)

The NFL, meanwhile, concluded that while current Saints head coach Sean Payton wasn't a direct participant in Williams' bounty program, he "did not make any detailed inquiry or otherwise seek to learn the facts, and failed to stop the bounty program."

So now what?

In reading through the comments, many fans want Williams suspended, some going so far as to suggest a lifetime ban. That seems extreme, but then again, "pay for performance" rewarded players for injuries. That's among the worst charges you can level against a coach or a player -- that they intentionally tried to injure opponents.  Even Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to NFL violence, said in October 2010 that "I don't want to injure anybody. There's a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game. I try to hurt people."

In that sense, Williams is worse than Harrison, right? Wherever he lies on the spectrum of dirty tactics, early indications are that Williams won't be forced to miss any games. Details via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"One league source said Williams might be in line for a large fine but didn't think a suspension would be forthcoming. Then again, the source said, 'This is two strikes against him,' referring to controversial comments Williams made before Super Bowl XLIV (at the end of the 2009 season) about knocking Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning out of the game."

Thomas added: "Another source said the expectations was that Williams' fine would be in six figures — perhaps as much as $250,000 — but that head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis would be penalized more heavily."

Will the sanctions have any lasting effects on the Saints? Who knows. In the wake of Spygate in 2007, the Patriots were fined $250,000, head coach Bill Belichick was fined anther $500,000 and the team lost their 2008 first-round draft pick. They went undefeated during the 2007 regular season but didn't win a playoff game from 2008-2010, and haven't won a Super Bowl since 2005.

While we wait for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to drop the hammer, take a moment to enjoy the mock-up of the movie poster for the inevitable made-for-TV spectacle that's sure to follow. (Yes, it has to be science fiction. And, yes, in case it's not blindingly obvious: this is a joke.)

Early cast list includes Williams as Vader (the hands-on leader), Vilma a Boba Fett (the enforcer), Favre as Jar Jar Binks (because who didn't want to knock Jar Jar out?) and Payton as Jabba (in charge but less interested in details as results). Also, in case you missed it the first time: THIS IS A JOKE. (Eye on Football Illustration)

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:10 pm
 

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

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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Posted on: February 6, 2012 10:37 pm
 

Favre: Retirement 'went a lot smoother' this time

Favre actually sounding retired is worth celebrating. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

When the Patriots Hail Mary landed incomplete on Sunday night, the NFL finished its first Brett Favre-free season in 20 years. Sure there were rumors about his return when the inevitable quarterback injuries surfaced, but it seems like the Old Gunslinger's finally hung up his boots.

And his remarks on a radio interview with 1340 the Fan in Lubbock indicate he's done with the game, as Favre said that even though he started to miss the game once the Super Bowl came around, he was content being retired.

"It went a lot smoother than the previous three or four years," Favre said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com "At the end of last season, I’d said in year’s past that I knew. I really knew this time. I got beat up a little bit physically, but I still felt like I could still do it, but I just felt like it was time. In my situation, unlike some players who retire because they have no choice, either teams don’t want them or injuries have caused them to retire and they just can’t do it.

"For me, I really had never thought I would give out mentally before I gave out physically, but I think that was the case. Mentally, I was just burned out."

So was everyone else -- the constant flip-flopping of Favre in and out of the game wore on everyone.

Favre also added that for the first time, watching the regular season, he "didn't miss it a bit." Obviously, watching people compete for a Super Bowl is a little more difficult to watch for someone as competitive to Favre than is the regular season.

It'll be interesting to see how the next few years for Favre play out. His retirement/de-tirement decisions certainly hurt his legacy in the short term. Once he's removed from the game for several years, there will still be some backlash at No. 4, but we're willing to bet that most people begin to remember all the great stuff he did on the field (and there was a lot of great stuff he did) rather than the last few years that featured so much drama.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 9:14 am
 

Allen wouldn't have minded the Strahan treatment

Allen

By Josh Katzowitz

You remember Jared Allen’s amazing performance in Week 17, recording 3 ½ sacks against the Bears and finishing the season with 22, only a half-sack behind record-holder Michael Strahan (it was enough to make him our Eye on Football defensive player of the week)?

Considering Brett Favre basically dove in front of Strahan in the final week of the 2001 season in order to help get his buddy the sack record, you might think that Allen would be upset (in retrospect, at least) that Favre’s actions shut the door on Allen’s ability to get the mark a decade later.

Apparently not. And when he was asked by WHB radio in Kansas City if he wished Chicago quarterback Josh McCown had done his best Favre impression (the Strahan one, not the other thing) to let the Vikings defensive end set a new record, Allen didn’t mince words.

“Absolutely,” he said. “A sack is a sack is a sack. There was about three times when I hit him when he just got rid of the ball. I tell you what, all he had to do was hook slide for me on one of them. … There’s been a lot of talk about that. I guess the biggest controversy is, was it a pass or was it a run? I’ve gotten sacks where I’ve chased guys out of bounds. I haven’t had one yet where a guy slides and I get to touch him down, but I’ve gotten them any which way possible, but a sack is a sack is a sack and they’re still hard to come by.”

Funny, with Allen, it doesn’t seem that way. Which is probably why opposing offenses find him somewhat intimidating.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:11 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 16

Babin

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will Jason Babin tie or break the record of 22.5 sacks in a single regular season? 

Yes 5/1

Well, considering Babin doesn’t get to play against Brett Favre at all (“Thanks again, Brett,” says Michael Strahan), it’ll be tough to match Strahan’s record. Babin has 18 sacks and two more games to tie Strahan, and he’s be on fire recently, recording eight sacks in the past three games. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the Eagles finish the season with the Cowboys and Redskins -- which rank 20th and 10th, respectively, in sacks allowed this season. So, while it might be tempting to take the odds, I think I’d probably go ‘no.’

Will Bear GM Jerry Angelo be fired before Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     

Yes -140

No EVEN

Retired? Maybe.
Fired? No. While Caleb Hanie has been terrible since taking over for Jay Cutler, the Bears were on their way to the playoffs if their most important player didn’t get hurt. Now, if you’re asking Matt Forte, what he’d like to see happen, he might point toward a firing. But I don’t see it for now. That, however, doesn’t mean Angelo will be back next year.

Will Raheem Morris be the head coach of the Bucs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     
   
Yes +110

No -150

I want to say yes, simply because the slide for the Buccaneers this season has been so steep. But I can’t stop thinking about last year’s surprising 10-6 finish that Morris helped orchestrate. I’d go no, but when Morris says things like this about his team, “You know, they’re not listening,” that’s certainly not a good sign.

Will either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills win another game this season?

Yes -210

No +170

The Buccaneers play at Carolina and Atlanta; Buffalo plays host to Denver and then is at New England to end the season. Straight-up, I’d pick the Buccaneers and Bills to lose all of those games, but I think one team will end up winning one game. I’d bet ‘yes’ on this one, and cross my fingers.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com