OT: New Orleans Saints had bounty system for injuring opponents

Submitted by denverblue on March 2nd, 2012 at 5:25 PM

I can't say this surprises me, but it's still pretty awful. I mean, it's one thing to go as hard as you can, deliver big hits and all that, but it's an entirely different thing if the intent is to injure. Where there's smoke there's fire: I bet there's a bunch of teams, in many sports, perhaps even at the college level, that do something similar, maybe not even with money.

The N.F.L. said the total amount of money in the pool might have reached $50,000 or more at its height during the playoffs of the 2009 season, when the Saints won the Super Bowl. The system paid players $1,500 for a “knockout” and $1,000 for a “cart-off,” with payouts doubling or tripling during the playoffs.


EDIT: There's a Jay Feeley quote at the end of the piece:

“No place in NFL for bounties. Physical play is an attribute but malicious intent should be removed.”



March 2nd, 2012 at 5:29 PM ^

the NFL is going to have to find an answer to the disconnect between the increasing evidence that football does horrific damage to the human body and the sense among players that causing injury and getting injured (including concussions) are just part of the game.  I have no idea how, though.  

The Baughz

March 2nd, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

This is like some Buddy Ryan type shit. I love it. As long as its a clean hit, I have np with it. Im sick of how pussified the nfl has become. You cant even tackle anyone without a flag. Keep the bounties coming.


March 2nd, 2012 at 5:41 PM ^

Vancouver should have totally paid Bertuzzi 500k for his hit on Moore. Mike Tyson should get a bigger gate percentage for biting off part of Holyfield's ear. Don't like getting Denarded? Five thousand for his ACL.

This would be great for sports.


March 2nd, 2012 at 8:21 PM ^

Instead, how about we say this:

Five thousand for Brady's non-thowing arm.
Ten thousand for either ankle or foot.
Twenty five thousand for his knee.
Fifty thousand for his right shoulder.
One hundred thousand for a concussion lasting more than a week.

What's going to happen to the hits being laid on Brady? Are players going to make hits designed to do nothing but injure? Is that change good for either the human race or the NFL? If we allow these bounties for legal hits, why not bend the rules just a little and lead with your helmet just a tad bit more than normal?


March 3rd, 2012 at 2:10 AM ^

If the hits legal than it's legal, whether he led with a "tad bit more" of his helmet or not.  In the end, there's not much you can do to try to add additional injury to somebody on a tackle except for hitting them harder.  As long as they are playing a clean game, I don't really see a big problem with giving players extra incentive to make them give some more effort.


March 3rd, 2012 at 9:35 AM ^


"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."


Here's the link to the quote (emphasis mine in the quote above). 

Maybe Gregg Williams is lying? His former players don't think so (Washington Post):


The four Redskins players who spoke on condition of anonymity portrayed Williams as a “coach who just took it a little too far,” in the words of one.


The Baughz

March 2nd, 2012 at 7:32 PM ^

Apparently nobody saw "as long as its a legal hit" in my post. I dont think guys are going to try to tear someones acl on purpose, but if someone puts a legal hit on a player and it just so happens to injure someone, than im fine with it. Its football. There are suppose to be hard hits. Now if a guy intentionally goes after someone knee or hits a guy late, then I have a prob with that.


March 2nd, 2012 at 7:55 PM ^

So if Meyer said at a press conference that anyone that knocks Denard out of their game without drawing a foul gets new jobs for their girlfriend and parents, you'd be cool with that? Or if the Giants had come out before the Super Bowl and said there was a hundred grand for anyone who made sure Brady was out of the game without a foul, that would be cool too?

All that's going to do is make sure the attempt to injure plays happen outside the normal scope of play, hopefully when the referees aren't looking.

The Baughz

March 2nd, 2012 at 8:12 PM ^

If it happens outside of the scope of play while the refs werent looking would be constitued as an illegal, dirty play. Look how many games Denard got injured in over the past 3 years. He took some shots. Excluding Michigan St, none of those were dirty plays. Shit happens. The bounty was also for ints, sacks, and fumble recoveries. So the emphasis was not just on trying to hurt someone. I dont think anyone from the Saints seriously injured anyone, could be wrng tho.


March 2nd, 2012 at 8:31 PM ^

I've been on the giving and receiving end of injuries over the years, and I have no problem with players going hard. I just don't think we need an incentive for violence outside the scope of the game.

If I were in the NHL right now and got hit at an awkward spot on the boards, ending my career, I would live with it. If I learned there was a bounty on that hit, I would be suing everyone and their mother, and I would be screaming bloody murder if the NHLPA wasn't doing everything they legally could on my behalf.


March 2nd, 2012 at 10:01 PM ^

I wonder if this could lead to lawsuits. i also wonder how this may effect the current lawsuits of ex-players vs. the NFL. If this practice is the norm on teams, the NFL could argue that the players do it to themselves, purposefully.


March 2nd, 2012 at 6:00 PM ^

Hope they bust every single player/coach involved and hit them with fines. I'd say triple or quadrouple whatever the money they put in was, plus ten times whatever payouts they got. On top of that, they should be put on some sort of disciplinary probation by the league front office. If they do something stupid while on probation, double the usual punishment. I'd also like to see the NFL publish names in some kind of censure letter.

There's no place for this type of stuff in sports; these guys are animals and need to be punished accordingly.


March 2nd, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

The more I think about it, the more this needs to kill the Saints postseason chances for next year, as well as limiting their talent acquisitions for the next several. They probably need a forced coaching change at some level, and the ownership should be on probation, with the threat of losing their franchise for another egregious incident.

The players and coaches should be prosecuted, as you say; I can't believe offering cash for an injury isn't criminal.


March 3rd, 2012 at 12:05 AM ^

It is criminal. It's not even controversial that it's criminal. It's just not prosecuted because the perception is that people don't want prosecutors (who have the leeway to press charges or not) to police stuff like this, so it's not seen as being worth the resources. Tough luck, families of future debilitated players.

South Bend Wolverine

March 3rd, 2012 at 2:18 AM ^

I'd even go further.  I say SMU the Saints - ban the entire organization from play for a full season, suspension w/o pay for all the players who were involved, and allow any other players on the team who wish to do so to enter free agency w/o penalty.  The Saints deserve to be decimated for this.  This is by far the worst sports scandal I can remember hearing about.


March 3rd, 2012 at 2:34 AM ^

People were paying money for other people to inflict bodily harm? I'm sorry but if you don't see how that is (potentially) criminal, I just don't know what to tell you.

If I offered the sum of $5,000 on MGoBlog to reinjure Brian Cook's knee, what do you think would happen legally? Hint: If you answer anything other than criminal charges, you need to be sure to stay away from criminal jurisdiction in most countries until you brush up on what's accepted in civilized society, and what isn't.


March 2nd, 2012 at 5:36 PM ^

I want cash for choking out my competition. We all know rogers steppin up his concussion prevention game. This makes harrison look like a school boy. Look for some serious examples to be made. Sean peyton is a douche. Sounds like they should have paid out more though their D isnt top notch.


March 2nd, 2012 at 5:43 PM ^

This puts a new spin on the other teams in the league complaining about Suh. While Suh needs to cool it a bit I thought the NFL wide outcry was a bit over the top. Lets see if other players come out and jump on the Saints for there dirty play the way they did Suh. I doubt we hear the same outrcy because the Saints are the darlings of the NFL along with a couple other untouchable teams.

Wolverine 73

March 2nd, 2012 at 6:33 PM ^

When you stomp on people on the ground and everyone can see it, what do you expect the reaction to be?  The guy is a dirty player, face it.  The Saints were apparently less overt in what they did, or they spread the dirt around, and it wasn't so obvious.  But the Saints conduct doesn't exonerate Suh in any way for what he did.


March 2nd, 2012 at 8:05 PM ^

As I said Suh needs to check himself. But there where teams crying and whining about Suh long before the stomp. Which is in my opinion where he crossed the line. I never said what Suh did was correct. I am just curiouse to see if there will be the same level of outrage expressed as there was with Suh.

Wolverine MD

March 2nd, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

Testosterone and macho bravado aside, we're humans first. This should not be tolerated. It's extremely unprofessional, you don't intentionally try to injure your colleagues.

South Bend Wolverine

March 2nd, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

I know a lot of people who always root against the Pats b/c of Spygate (a legitimate outlook; I root for them b/c of the Tom Brady/Michigan connection).  I look forward to joining them in never rooting for the Saints again either.  The two incidents are not even remotely comparable in gravity.

Picktown GoBlue

March 2nd, 2012 at 6:14 PM ^

at University of Miami Nevin Shapiro as well (the bounty to take out Tebow, etc.), so there's at least one allegation of this happening at the college level.  Found a website with a quick summary of the amounts and the alleged payouts to players here.


  • highest amount: Devin Hester $7,500
  • Also on Saints: Jonathan Vilma $2,250
  • On Saints in 2007: Orien Harris $250

Some of the bounties:

  • Knock player out of game: $5,000
  • "Hit of the Game": $500 or $1,000
  • Celebration penalty: $500


March 2nd, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

I have long suspected teams like Ohio and MSU, who have often deliberately injured opposing players, of having bounty systems.  I think one of the MIami bouties is funny, though.  It doesn't excuse the injury bounties, but the thought of some rich, jock-sniffing cokehead offering college players $500 for celebration penalties really makes me laugh.  


March 2nd, 2012 at 6:32 PM ^

Was going on with the Redskins too. I liked Gregg when he was coaching here. I wanted him to replace Gibbs. I was disappointed to hear that bounties were going on in DC town too. 

Just the wrong way to play the game.


March 2nd, 2012 at 6:46 PM ^

I remember the semi final game against Minnesota. The Saint's players looked pretty deranged trying to kill Favre. They pounded him to the turf at least 10 times that day.

Too bad, Minnesota was playing a road game but clearly had the better talent. 


March 2nd, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

If its a legal hit what's the problem?

If a coach tells a player to hit him so hard he doesn't get up, that's illegal?

Isn't Ray Lewis thing to do this every play?

Mr Miggle

March 2nd, 2012 at 8:43 PM ^

They're not rewarding players for making a hard hit unless they injure an opponent. When the focus is put on injuring your opponents, then it's more than likely some lines are going to get crossed. Those attempts won't all be good clean hits.

Frankly, I find this whole debate unsettling. Injuries are a part of the game, an unfortunate part. Deliberate injuring your opponents should never be a legitimate tactic. At the very best, it's unprofessional.


March 2nd, 2012 at 6:51 PM ^

think this is awesome, I know it is wrong but I love real football where people get straight jacked. Not this horrible touchy bull crap Roger G. has me watching every Sunday now.