Aggressive hits have been a high priority for the NFL publicly for the last two seasons. Friday information was released that the NFL has been secretly investigating the New Orleans Saints organization since 2010 for creating an internal bounty program participated in by players and coaches that encouraged the defense to hurt and knock opponents out of games.
The fund was started in 2009 by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, whose recently signed on with the Rams, that between 22 to 27 players were involved in.
The pot reached up to $50,000. The breakdown was as follows; $1,500 was awarded for knocking a player out, and $1,000 was given if the opponent had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. Saints owner Tom Benson found out about the program and ordered general manager Mickey Loomis to stop it. He didn’t. The Saints Coach, Sean Payton also knew about it.
Today Gregg Williams issued an apology, seemingly without being prompted.
“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,” Williams said in a statement. “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.
Several players took to Twitter to comment on the situation. My favorite analogy about the situation was made by journalist, JA Adande.
You can check out more tweets on the topic below. Bounties are a pretty common practice as I understand it. But the main problem is that team officials knew. With the concussion issue being such a huge topic in the NFL and the lawsuits that continue to pop up, you can best believe that Commissioner Goodell is going to go hard with fines, suspensions etc. I wonder what happens to Williams now even though he’s moved on to a new role with the Rams. How will this news impact their season.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was said to be one of the worst (or highly motivational depending on the side of the ball you’re looking at this from) He allegedly offered his defensive teammates $10,000 if they were successfully able to knock Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship game. Favre responded today basically saying, so what.
“I’m not pissed. It’s football. I don’t think anything less of those guys”
You can put money on the fact that the NFL (Roger Goodell in this case) won’t be as carefree in his response.