Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has likely coached his last NFL game after audio was recently released of him telling his players to intentionally injury San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore before the 2012 NFC Championship game. Since then discussions regarding the matter have ranged very widely, including some arguers who contend that bounties are common in professional football. While the validity of that statement may never be known, Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said Thursday he has never been given a speech by a coach.
“I’ve never had a coach say something like that,” Ware said. “It’s a whole different deal. You talk about interceptions, fumble recoveries, who gets the first knock down or batted pass, but not go after a head or ACL or bite them or whatever you want to do. Nothing like that.”
So there we have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Ware is considered by many to be the best defensive player in the NFL and he’s threatened the league’s single-season sack record twice in his seven-year career. If he says he’s never had a coach instruct him to intentionally injure another player, how can the assumption be made that bounties are common in the NFL?
Ware was also asked how he would react if a coach gave him such a morbid pep talk before a game.
“Just being a defensive guy, you take it with a grain of salt and play the way you want to play,” Ware said. “As a player, you’re not trying to go out and hurt somebody; you’re just going out to make a statement and let them know where you stand.”
Exactly and spoken like a true professional. Now there may be several small bounty schemes throughout the league; former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson recently said he and his defensive teammates were rewarded for hard hits. However, no player like Woodson that’s recently come forward has said their team employed a full-blown bounty program headed by a coach.
Ware went on to say he believes Williams deserves another chance because “everyone makes mistakes in life.” That may be true, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was wise to make an example of Williams and the Saints to send a clear message to the other 31 teams in the NFL that bounties will not be tolerated. Ware’s comments prove that bounties are not only uncommon, but they’re not welcomed by all high-profile players, either.