Some of the strongest comments about the Saints bounty scandal have come not from a football player but from a basketball player: Charles Barkley, who said on the Dan Patrick Show that he’s appalled.
But Barkley isn’t appalled that the Saints had a system of bounties. He’s appalled that someone from inside the Saints’ locker room apparently informed on former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in the NFL’s investigation.
“You have to be a punk to snitch that out,” Barkley said. “That’s like giving a reporter an anonymous quote. That makes you a punk, if you do anonymous, but also, you don’t bring that out x amount of years later. I mean you don’t compete in it if you don’t want to be in it. But I’ve seen at least three or four well-known NFL players say all teams have bounties. So I’m glad they came to Gregg Williams’ defense. Because I’m pretty sure all teams have that.”
Barkley said bounties happen in the NBA, too, and he recalled a specific incident when he was on the losing end of a blowout and he talked to his teammates about putting a hard foul on an opposing player who was trying to run up the score.
“I’m a firm believer, if a guy shoots a three, that you knock his ass as far in the stands as you possibly can,” Barkley said. “We were getting beat by 30 or 40, I can’t remember, and the guy was shooting threes, running up and down the court, and I said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to hurt that guy right there.’”
Barkley declined to name the player he was referring to.
“I can’t tell you that, Dan, I’d have to incriminate myself,” Barkley said.
But Barkley did say that NBA players are willing to throw around more money for bounties than NFL players are.
“I think it was $5,000,” Barkley said. “We get paid better in the NBA.”
Barkley said he doesn’t believe players are looking to cause long-term injuries to their opponents, but they are trying to hit opposing players hard enough that those players don’t want to go back in the game.
“In the heat of an NFL game, when guys are trying to make tackles, you’re always trying to hit the guy as hard as possible,” he said. “I think you always want to knock the best players out of the game. I want to get Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady out of the game. That’s better for my team. Do I want to hurt them? No, but I want to hit them hard. That’s better for my team.”
Asked specifically about reports that the Saints were trying to knock Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game when the Vikings played at New Orleans, Barkley said he thought every team wanted to target Favre at the end of his career — less because it would help the team than because players disliked Favre personally.
“I think Brett Favre was just annoying people at that point,” Barkley said. “He had been annoying people for the last five years of his career. I think players resent that. Were they trying to hurt him? I don’t believe that. Did they want to hit him hard? Of course they did. Because you have to admit, his last five years he was very annoying.”
It’s safe to say there are plenty of NFL players who will agree with Barkley. Not just about Favre being annoying, but about bounties just being part of life in the NFL.
UPDATE: For those wondering about the game and player Barkley declined to specify, the sleuths at the Dan Patrick Show point out this 1992 story about Barkley going after Charlotte’s J.R. Reid at the tail end of a game in which Barkley’s Philadelphia 76ers lost 136-84.