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Tag:Gregg williams
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 6, 2012 5:17 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:50 pm
 

Payton, Loomis take 'full responsibility'

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have promised never to allow a bounty program in their organization again. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Since the Saints bounty program news broke last Friday, New Orleans coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have not commented. On late Tuesday  afternoon, they broke their silence, releasing a joint statement through the Saints PR department.

Basically, Payton and Loomis are taking full responsibility. 

Here is the statement:
We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility.

This has brought undue hardship on Mr. (Tom) Benson, who had nothing to do with this activity. He has been nothing but supportive and for that we both apologize to him.

These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game. Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.

Mickey Loomis & Sean Payton

You’ll recall that Gregg Williams also apologized in a statement last week, saying, “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the 'pay for performance' program while I was with the Saints. 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.”

It is interesting, though, that the only person to whom they apologize is Benson. Not to Roger Goodell or the fans or the players that might have been physically hurt by the bounties.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:37 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:02 pm
 

Starke: Gibbs handed out $100 bills for QB hits

Gibbs, in his second stint as Skins coach. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Gregg Williams, the man at the center of "Bountygate," worked under Joe Gibbs as the Redskins defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2007 (before he became head coach of the Bills; there is also a concern he ran a bounty program there). So naturally, Gibbs was asked about whether bounty programs existed in Washington. And he said they absolutely did not.

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But here's an interesting twist to that: George Starke, one of the original "Hogs" under Gibbs during his first tenure as 'Skins coach, appeared on ESPN 980 and said, via Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog, that Gibbs used to walk through the locker room and hand out $100 b ills to defensive players who knocked down the quarterback.

"Let’s be clear: the reason that the Hogs did that Hogs Night Out poster ... was, in the meeting after the game, Joe Gibbs would come in, he’d have a fistful of $100 bills," Starke said. "And if Dexter knocked the quarterback down three times, he would get three hundred-dollar bills. And Joe would pass the money out in the meeting, and we would have to duck."

(Hogs Night Out was a result of Starke and the linemen being mad they received no money, so they'd apparently sign Jack Kent Cooke's name to the check.)

Starke pointed out that Gibbs wouldn't consider the $100 handouts "bounties," but rather "incentives." And there's a big difference there, even if both are a violation of (current) NFL rules. Bounties contain a malicious intent to cause injury or physical harm to another player. Incentives are simply bonuses for doing your job well.

And while Starke pointed out that he didn't think Gregg Williams (who he doesn't know) would tell a player to hurt someone, he said that "George Allen did in fact put a bounty on Roger Staubach of 200 bucks, and the bounty was to knock him out ... Not to hurt him. Let's be clear about that. Knock him out... We used to call it drag-offs."

Now that is a bounty. And even if Starke doesn't think what Gibbs was doing would be considered a "bounty" and even if Gibbs wouldn't call it a "bounty," combining that description of injury to a person with the visual of Gibbs making it rain in the 'Skins locker room isn't exactly the best public relations for the former Redskins coach.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 5:38 pm
 

Players come to Gregg Williams' defense

Then-Jags defensive coordinator Gregg Williams signals a play during training camp in July 2006. It was a simpler time.  (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was summoned to the NFL's Manhattan headquarters Monday to discuss further the league's findings that the Saints (where Williams was the defensive coordinator from 2009-2011) had a "pay for performance" bounty program that rewarded players for injuring opponents.

Williams issued an apology Friday, hours after the the news broke, and in the hours and days since everybody has weighed in on the matter. Oft-fined and once suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison tweeted Sunday: “We’ll see how concerned the NFL is about player safety when they decide what the punishment for the saints is. I’ll just say this, if that was me I would have been kicked out of the NFL!”

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Later that day, Harrison retweeted this from teammate Ryan Clark, who played for the Redskins when Williams was the coach there: "Never in my career has a defensive coach singled out a player and put $ on his head. I've never been offered $ to put a player out of a game."

During a Monday appearance on ESPN, Clark finished his thought (via PFT.com): ‘If you knock out this guy we will give you a certain amount of money for it.’ Whether it was my head coach Joe Gibbs, whether it was Gregg Williams, I was never, ever approached to take a guy out. …

“If these things are going on, you speak up while they’re happening,” Clark said. “If you’re in a meeting and a coach comes in and says, ‘Hey, No. 16, whoever he is, if you knock him out of the game we’re going to pay you x amount of dollars.’ Then you blow the whistle then and say, ‘Look, I’m not going to be a part of this. If we continue to do this, I will report it.’ To me, that’s making a statement, that’s making a stand and that’s being loyal to all the players in this league.”

Another former Redskins defensive back, Fred Smoot, also came to Williams' defense.

“First of all I want to correct everybody,” Smoot said Monday after calling into 106.7 The Fan (via the Sports Bog). “It was never a system. And let me tell you something: this was a thing that I think started in training camp with us as players. It started off with who could get the most interceptions, who could get the biggest hit or who could get the sacks, and we took it into games."

NFL rules prohibit monetary incentives for interceptions and sacks, too. Although Williams probably wouldn't have been sitting in commissioner Roger Goodell's office Monday if that's all he was accused of. Smoot continued:

“Gregg never said take out this player or take out this player," he said. "But I’m sorry, back when I played football, we used to actually hit people. It was legal to go out and hit people. And we wanted to be the most physical team, and we wanted to inflict pain, but in no way possible did we ever want to go out there and endanger anybody’s career or take somebody truly out of the game....

“It was more or less we would start a pot in the defensive backfield of who could get the most forced fumbles or who could get the most interceptions, who could do that. It was never a bounty; it was more or less a pot that all of us players put in. Gregg never put in a dime. Gregg never came in and said do this, do this, do that. We did that ourselves, as a way to kind of pump each other up to go make more plays.”

Smoot admitted that he understood why the league might frown upon bounty programs but reiterated that “I never saw anyone paid for knocking someone out of the game. Did we as players put in pots to make plays, what we called the Big Splash Plays Pot? Yeah, we did that. WE did that. Players. That started by the captains on the team…."

Smoots remarks runs counter to a Washington Post report from Friday. Mark Maske wrote that three former Redskins players "described a coach (in Williams) who doled out thousands of dollars to Redskins defenders who measured up to Williams’s scoring system for rugged play, including 'kill shots' that knocked opposing teams’stars out of a game. 'You got compensated more for a kill shot than you did other hits,' one former player said. Compensation ranged from 'hundreds to thousands of dollars' with the biggest payout thought to be $8,000."

Wherever the truth lies, things could end badly for Williams. And to a lesser extent, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, who had knowledge of the reported bounty program, and the Saints' organization.

If it's any consolation to Williams (and we can't imagine it is but we're including it here for completeness), Weight Watchers spokesman Charles Barkley is appalled by former players anonymously ratting Williams out.

“You have to be a punk to snitch that out,” Barkley said during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. “That’s like giving a reporter an anonymous quote. That makes you a punk, if you do anonymous, but also, you don’t bring that out X amount of years later. I mean you don’t compete in it if you don’t want to be in it. But I’ve seen at least three or four well-known NFL players say all teams have bounties. So I’m glad they came to Gregg Williams’ defense. Because I’m pretty sure all teams have that.”

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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.

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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 4, 2012 11:00 pm
 

Even Suh is offended by bounty programs

Suh says he would never participate in a bounty program. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

For the guy labeled as one the dirtiest players in the NFL, even Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh can’t believe the findings of the NFL regarding the Saints and their bounty program.

Suh -- who was suspended two games in 2011 after stomping on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and has been disciplined by the league a total of five times in his short caerer -- told the Charlotte Observer that he wouldn’t participate in something like that.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
"It's unfortunate to hear these things come out," Suh told the paper. "Me personally, I don't take part in those things and knowing my teammates and knowing my coaches, we wouldn't allow that.

"I understand it's a tough situation the commissioner has to deal with. As he has in the past, he's going to deal with it with a stiff hand. Hopefully, people can learn from the mistakes and make an example out of it.

Asked how common those kinds of bounty programs are -- where players are rewarded by teammates and the coaching staff for knocking opponents out of the game -- Suh said he didn’t know because he only was aware of what was happening in the Lions locker room.

But the NFL has said between 22 and 27 Saints players participated in one from 2009-11 and former Redskins and Bills players have said they did as well when Gregg Williams, who has been summoned to New York again to meet with NFL security officials on Monday, coached on those teams.

“For me personally and for my teammates, we don't want to put anybody out,” Suh said. “I would never want anybody to target me to take me out so why would I do it to somebody else?"

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 5:43 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 8:00 am
 

Gregg Williams to meet with NFL again

Gregg Williams, right, has been summoned to meet with Roger Goodell again. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

The NFL has summoned former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to New York City on Monday for more discussions with security officials about alleged violations of the league's bounty rules.

The meetings with NFL officials, including a possible sit down with commissioner Roger Goodell, come in the wake of new reports that Williams ran illegal bounty programs during his stints with the Redskins and Bills.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Obviously, this is terrible, though not unexpected, news for the current Rams defensive coordinator, recently hired for Jeff Fisher’s new staff in St. Louis.

In an email to The Associated Press, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote, the league will continue "addressing the issues raised as part of our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of the game."

Already, Williams has apologized for his actions, saying, “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the 'pay for performance' program while I was with the Saints. 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.”

Of course, that statement was released before we knew about the possibility of the programs in Washington, where he was the defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs, and Buffalo, where he was head coach from 2001-03.

And while there has been a report that Williams would face a fine but not likely a suspension -- again, before we heard about Washington and Buffalo -- I’m guessing Goodell is going to leave all disciplinary options open after listening to what Williams has to say.

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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