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Tag:New Orleans Saints
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 3:49 pm
 

Romanowski: Bounty talk blown 'out of proportion'

Romo thinks the press is blowing the Saints bounties out of proportion. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Bill Romanowski always had a reputation as a pretty intense guy on the football field. If you listen to his appearance on The Jim Rome Show below, you'll see that Romanowski hasn't lost his edge since he retired.

And when he was asked by Rome about the current bounty scandal (I agree with Rome: 'Bountygate' needs to die a quick death) surrounding the Saints, Romanowski blamed the snitches and the press for helping to blow it way out of proportion.

"I think the press has blown it way out of proportion," Romanowski told Rome. "At the end of the day I think this was about bringing a group of guys together -- a defense -- together -- to say, 'We want to be the baddest mother-effers in the league.' OK? This was internal motivation in their defensive room that should've stayed in their defensive room. Nobody should've leaked this.

"And guess what? Gregg Williams just created an incentive program to fire guys up and do what they do and that's try and hit people as hard as humanly possible. And if they got taken out on a stretcher and it was the starting quarterback they probably had a better chance to win. But is the intent to try and hurt someone and put them the hospital? I think no. That was not the intent. This was just an internal motivator for his defense."

 
("ROME with Jim Rome" debuts on CBS Sports Network April 3rd. Follow Rome on Twitter @JimRome.)

I also agree with Rome on the fact that Bill needs to get to an attorney and patent "GUESS WHAT?" Bart Scott-style as fast as possible. But I'm not so sure that the OG Romo really gets that the game has changed.

Sure, he told Rome that his hit on Kerry Collins in 1999 where Collins was bleeding everywhere would net him a $1 million fine today. But he also tried to make a tennis analogy with football and I'm not entirely sure it works.

"We're playing football here, Jimmy. We're not all of a sudden playing tennis and saying, 'Oh jump over the net and take out the other guy if he hits a nice shot," Romanowski said. "You put on shoulder pads and a helmet and you go out there and you try to hit people -- impose your will upon them and try to defeat them and LITERALLY take them out of the game by overpowering them physically."

It's possible to impose your will on someone else without violating clearly-defined NFL rules regarding the illegal nature of utilizing monetary incentives to promote violence on the field.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:32 pm
 

Report: Randy Moss 'lit it up' at Saints workout

Moss reportedly looked 'like the old Randy' on Tuesday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday night, CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson passed along a report that Randy Moss, currently a free agent, would be working out with the Saints on Tuesday. Some interesting reports have surfaced surrounding Moss since then.

Latest NFL News, Notes

For starters, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Moss has a pair of other tryouts lined up for next week. And more importantly, Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that Moss "lit it up" in his workout with the Saints.

"Hearing from multiple sources re Randy Moss workout today he lit it up. Was told he ran about 45 routes and 'looked like the old Randy,'" Glazer tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

If this is accurate, it's fascinating. And not just because no one expected any good news out of New Orleans for a while, hey-o. Moss has already rebounded once in his career from a season where he looked to be finished as an NFL player (in 2006, with the Raiders) to post record numbers the following year (in 2007, with the Patriots).

So it's not unfathomable that he could do the same thing again. Sure, he's several years older and took a year off of football this time. But Moss' game is predicated on speed, and if his speed is back and he's able to torch defensive backs on vertical routes, he's going to draw interest from teams in the NFL.

And even if the reports of Moss performance are being overblown a bit, he should still expect to hear his phone ringing more often in the coming weeks.

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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.

Latest NFL News, Notes

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 6, 2012 9:28 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:40 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Offensive line rankings

Is Nicks, our top free-agent offensive lineman, done hoisting Brees? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling lists of the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the offensive linemen.

It's not the sexiest position in the NFL -- just ask Andre "C-Cup" Smith -- and there's a feeling in the NFL these days, whether it's right or wrong, that offensive line is becoming a fungible position. It's OK to laugh at that idea, because a few years ago, wide receiver was the same way. It'll shift back and forth in the next few years. Right now, you'll pay a nice price to land a wideout and offensive linemen are relatively cheap.

Some of the guys on the list below won't be cheap however. There's a pretty nice group of offensive linemen hitting the market this year, and teams might be wise to avoid trying to race in the free-agent market and focus their efforts on improving protection.

1. Carl Nicks

Breakdown: Nicks is probably the best guard in the league, and it doesn't help that his teammate, Jahri Evans, signed a $56.7 million deal for the next seven years. Especially since Nicks wants more money. With Drew Brees franchised, the Saints are essentially forced to let Nicks and top wideout Marques Colston both hit the market and good luck bringing Nicks back. He's the only guy who can hurt the guard-related stock for Stanford's David DeCastro.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints, Cowboys, Chargers, 49ers

2. Chris Myers

Breakdown: Honestly if Meyers left it would be a) a huge mistake for the Texans and b) a big surprise. Everyone talks about Mario Williams as the guy they need to re-sign, but Meyers is substantially more valuable to what they do (especially with the defensive personnel vs. the offensive personnel). Houston's offensive line is by far and away the most underrated in the NFL and while Eric Winston is the anchor, Meyers is the leader. I'd like to think that Houston won't let him walk, simply because the AFC South window is too big not to keep making a run at another division title.
Potential Landing Spots: Texans, Packers, Ravens

3. Jared Gaither

Breakdown: Gaither was a supplemental draft pick with the Ravens in 2007, washed out, went to the Chiefs and then looked finished in the NFL at an early age. But he was a big factor in revitalizing the Chargers run late in the season; after Marcus McNeil went down, Philip Rivers was offered no protection until Gaither came into town. The Chargers want to keep him, but this is a very shallow class for free-agent tackles, and Gaither could pull in good money on the market. He's got gobs of talent and is still young, but keeping him motivated is a concern.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

4. Ben Grubbs

Breakdown: Grubbs, the Ravens 2007 first-round pick, made the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2011. He's a free agent only because Baltimore's had to use their franchise tag on Ray Rice and couldn't commit to the guard. The Ravens still want to re-sign Grubbs, and that could happen between now and March 13 when free agency begins. Working in the Ravens favor is the deep nature of this crop of free-agent guards.
Potential Landing Spots: Ravens, Bengals, Giants, Bears, 49ers

4. Scott Wells

Breakdown: Wells and the Packers are in the middle of a headed non-discussion about a new contract. Wells believes he deserves big money, and the Packers believe he deserves the type of money that a shorter, 31-year-old center would get on an open market. But Wells isn't just any center; he's proven his worth in working with different quarterbacks in Green Bay and helping to develop Aaron Rodgers. Wells made his first Pro Bowl in 2011 and has missed just one game since 2006. He won't want to leave Green Bay but he also won't take less than he's worth. It wouldn't be surprising to see him move closer to Tennessee (he's from there and played for the Vols in college) either.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Texans, Broncos

5. Demetrius Bell

Breakdown: Bell's been playing football for less than 10 years, but he's clearly quite good at it. Or at least good enough to keep being named the Bills left tackle. The seventh-round pick out of Northwestern State could come back to Buffalo, but if there are teams in need of offensive line help, there's a good chance he'll bail. The offensive line market is odd this year, in that it appears to be guard and center heavy. The tackles aren't exactly stacked and that could result in a nice deal for a guy like Bell.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Bills, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

6. Evan Mathis

Breakdown: Mathis hasn't started 16 games since coming into the NFL. But he's coming off easily the best season of his career and has said he'll take a discount to remain with the Eagles under the tutelage of Howard Mudd. Mathis said he'd work for "$20 and a pizza," but the reality is he got paid the league minimum last year, and at 30, he'd be insane not to maximize his money-making ability.
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers

8. Geoff Schwartz

Breakdown: Schwartz played all over the line for Carolina in 2010 before missing all of 2011 with injury. It'll be interesting to see Ron Rivera's coaching staff handles the offensive line: Schwartz and Jeff Otah are holdovers from a previous regime and might not necessarily stick. But Schwartz, at 25, would be a nice, versatile and discounted signing for someone who needs help and depth across the line.
Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Bills, Panthers, Seahawks

9. Dan Koppen

Breakdown: You know what's weird? Everyone's willing to toss out the "system" word as it relates to anything with the Patriots quarterback but don't bother discussing how their offensive line, which features a pretty cohesive unit, helps Tom Brady's success. Whatever, it's fine. That's the "Patriot Way." But Koppen isn't going to get the franchise tag like fellow lineman Logan Mankins and he stands to make more money for a team that needs a center.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Ravens

10. Jake Scott

Breakdown: The good news is this: Scott played for an offensive-line monster in Mike Munchak. Munchak consistently creates cohesive offensive units that over-produce relative to their value. But the bad news is that Scott's 30 (not too old) and if you bring him into another organization, he's not going to have that same Titans cohesiveness. Is that overplayed? Yeah, maybe. But Scott will have bigger questions when it comes to Chris Johnson's production in 2011, whether that's fair or not.
Potential Landing Spots: Titans, Saints, Eagles, Seahawks

HONORABLE MENTION

Jeff Backus, Nick Hardwick, Vernon Carey, Anthony Collins

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:24 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:14 am
 

Report: Randy Moss to work out for Saints

Is Moss headed back to the NFL? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It was exactly three weeks ago Monday that Randy Moss took to UStream to tell his fans that "I wanna play football." Of course, Moss also spoke authoritatively about professional wrestling and pulled out a brown paper bag filled with his hair. It wasn't clear if he was serious. Then he added, "Your boy is going to come back here and play some football, so I'm really excited. I had some things I had to adjust in my life."

The media ran with it, Moss made several more UStream appearances, and now, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Moss has his first scheduled workout with an NFL team on Tuesday.

JayGlazer
Randy Moss working out for Saints tomorrow. Former Packers QB Brian Brohm also coming in to throw to him
3/5/12 10:13 PM

The Saints have had a forgettable few days, starting with stalled contract negotiations with franchise quarterback Drew Brees (that led to the franchise tag and a reportedly "livid" Brees) and ending with charges that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was behind a bounty scheme that rewarded players for injuring opponents

Now that the Saints have franchised instead of re-signed Brees, that means they can't use the tag on guard Carl Nicks or wide receiver Marques Colston -- two of the offense's best players. And if Colston leaves via free agency New Orleans will be looking for his replacement. We're not sure Moss is that guy (he's not interested in playing in the middle of the field and he's admitted as much) but the Saints still think he's worth taking a look at. 

Moss' career seemed to stall back in 2005 when the Vikings traded him to the Raiders. After a pedestrian 2006 season, the Patriots acquired him for a fourth-rounder in 2007 and he went on to have one of the most productive years in NFL history. Put differently: in the right system, with the right support system, and an elite future Hall of Famer at quarterback, Moss can be special.

At least that was the case with the old Moss. The Pats eventually shipped him back to the Vikings in 2010, and after a four-game stopover he ended the year with the Titans where he caught just six balls in eight games.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves; the Saints appear to be kicking the tires on Moss, which may or may not have happened last September after the Week 1 loss to the Packers. Either way, this could be the first of many workouts for Moss. (The Jets and Eagles were reportedly interested last month -- while New England and Dallas probably won't be entering the Straight Cash Homey Sweepstakes.)

And if the NFL doesn't work out, there's always the IFL.

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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