New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams is responsible for the “bounty program” that took place during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
According to ESPN, between 22 and 27 Saints players took part in Williams’’ bounty fund in which defensive playmakers were compensated for attempting to knock out opponents. Inflicting injuries on direct players was a big part of the program.
“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. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, one of the team’s heroes during their Super Bowl run in 2009, allegedly placed $10,000 on a table in the Saints locker room for any player who could knock Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game. If you remember, there were several ugly hits on Favre during the title game that were not called by the referees. The NFL later came out and said a few of the blown calls should have gone in favor of the Minnesota Vikings.
This is an absolute disgrace to the NFL and everyone who participates in the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell will have his hands full trying to figure out how to respond but whatever it is I am sure it will not be enough. Suspensions and fines should be the least of the Saints problems. Williams should really consider whether he is mature enough to handle a high-ranking job.
“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game and this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” Goodell said in a statement. “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.”
I understand players discuss how physical they are going to be with their opponents every week. Not to mention the trash talking that happens on the field, but for a coordinator to put a bounty on specific players his team will face is absolutely ridiculous.
Think about if any of your favorite players were injured by the Saints at any point over the last three seasons. If they were, does that make you a little angry knowing there was a good chance the injury was done on purpose? Does it make you mad knowing the New Orleans player who injured the person you idolize got paid for what he did? If you think you’re angry, how do you think those players who lost valuable time during the season feel? Maybe those players could not participate in playoff games, the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl because some inconsiderate coordinator thought it would be a good idea to fund bad behavior.
Now we must ask ourselves who else in the league is doing this.
“This ‘bounty’ program happens all around the league…not surprising,” said ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody via Twitter. “The bigger question w/ this ‘bounty’ issue is…..WHO SNITCHED?!?! I’m just speaking from a guy that was in the lockerroom….these things happened, not saying it was right, but it happened.”
Woody played for three teams during his NFL career and the scary part about it is not one of them was the Saints.
The best thing for the ‘bounty’ program is for it to go public, especially if Goodell comes down hard on New Orleans with harsh penalties. Now other teams will not dare employ the funding of intolerable behavior on the gridiron.