The NFL has yet to show any significant intention to investigate and punish other teams for using bounties, even though other teams apparently used bounties.
Specifically, other teams where former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams served as a coach, according to past admissions made by former Redskins defensive end Philip Daniels and former Bills safety Coy Wire.
49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, who played for Williams in Washington, recently told KNBR that players were paid to hit players hard enough to put them out of a game.
Rogers said it started as a pool of money consisting of fines imposed by Williams for players being late to meetings or missing meetings, along with money kicked in by players. Payments would be made for big plays, like interceptions.
At some point, the program expanded.
“It went on to guys just suggesting stuff in a room,” Rogers said. “If you knock this person out, let’s say a receiver, he comes across the middle. Safety knocks him out, a legal hit, you get this amount of money.”
Rogers insisted that the word “bounty” overstates the situation, and he claims that the payment system is a product of “competition in the [meeting] room,” and that “once the ball is snapped you’re not thinking about it.”
Though Rogers stopped short of saying that money was offered to 49ers players for efforts during the NFC title game, he said that players recognized that, when facing Giants quarterback Eli Manning, “We need to take him out.”
Rogers also doesn’t believe that the current effort to punish the Saints will change the realities of pro football. “Will guys stop doing it in their [meeting] rooms? I doubt it.”
He also sounded off on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s habit of fining players for making big hits, arguing that “it’d probably be different” if Goodell had played pro football and understood how the game really works.
I’ve been following the NFL long enough to understand how it investigative process really works. When faced with a rabbit hole that may go far deeper than anyone at the league office wants to know or acknowledge it goes, the NFL often is inclined to cover the opening with dirt and move on.
Given the comments made by men who played with the Redskins and Bills under Williams, the league at a minimum should be exploring the extent to which bounties were used there. Of course, the question then becomes where the investigative process will end, and how far back will the league attempt to determine the use of meeting-room money to reward players for putting a hit on an opponent that puts him out of the game.
Since such an effort would undermine the severe punishments imposed on the Saints and also make this problem seem to be far more widespread and systemic, look for the league to continue to do nothing, unless and until it feels it has no other option.
If players who played for Williams elsewhere continue to speak out, the NFL eventually will have no other option.