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Ellis hit on Kolb is prime example of a “knockout”

2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game Getty Images

Sunday night’s Saints-Cardinals game provided in the third series from the New Orleans defense a clear example of the kind of play for which players allegedly were being paid in violation of league rules.

When defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis dragged down Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb, causing him to leave the game with what turned out to be a bruised chest muscle, Ellis accomplished a $1,500 “knockout” in the now-defunct vernacular of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  (If Kolb had returned, it would have simply been a $1,000 “cart-off.”)

It’s a great opportunity for the league to use its various media platforms to send a clear message to all media and fans that this is precisely the kind of play for which the Saints were punished:  A clean, legal hit that resulted in an opponent leaving the game.

The fact that the league didn’t pounce on the opportunity to let us all know that this is exactly what the league punished the Saints for makes us even more curious as to whether the league hopes to avoid the debate that would arise from punishing teams and players for giving other players a little extra cash for simply doing their jobs.

Ellis is paid to chase down quarterbacks and to apply clean, legal hits to them.  Ellis has a clear incentive to knock the starting quarterback out of the game.  (Although in this specific case the Saints may have been better off facing Kolb instead of John Skelton.)  Throwing a little extra money to Ellis — the NFL equivalent of the helmet sticker — doesn’t create any less incentive to hit the quarterback and hope he can’t continue.

The league defines such incentives as bounties, even if the incentive to apply clean, legal hits in a  way that induces injury nevertheless exists.

Indeed, when former Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren said of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, “One rule they used to tell me: Kill the head and the body’s dead,” the league didn’t respond by suspending Warren for making this threat, or for vowing to punish him if Roethlisberger were injured via the application of a clean, legal hit.  Instead, the league had this to say:  “We notified the team, including Gerard Warren, that if a player commits a flagrant foul after making such a statement, it may be a decisive factor supporting the suspension of the player, depending on the entire set of circumstances.”

So if cash wasn’t being paid to Saints players for flagrant fouls, why is this a problem?

The point is that the term “bounty” creates the false impression that defensive players were breaking fingers under the pile or kneecapping opponents outside the locker room.  Paying a guy like Ellis for doing his job during the third defensive series is, philosophically, no different than paying Malcolm Jenkins for the interception he notched during the first defensive series of the game.

While we understand that the ability to earn some extra cash could prompt a guy to break the rules in the hopes of cashing in, the micro incentive to pocket a little extra walking-around money must be regarded simultaneously with the macro incentive of winning the war of attrition by hitting guys so hard — cleanly — that they can’t keep playing.

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47 Responses to “Ellis hit on Kolb is prime example of a “knockout””
  1. dleboeuf84 says: Aug 6, 2012 9:51 AM

    Amen & who Dat

  2. cakemixa says: Aug 6, 2012 9:51 AM

    Goodell: “Anyone else hear someone who was off-camera say “PAY ME MY MONEY”??

  3. goodolebaghead says: Aug 6, 2012 9:56 AM

    This is what Saints fans have been saying this whole time. Thank You Mike, now maybe some of these homers will think about this before they spew anti-Saint hate.

  4. truthfactory says: Aug 6, 2012 9:57 AM

    I dont know what is so hard to understand. Everyone knows that clean and dirty hits happen in the NFL. The problem is when players and/ or coaches fund a program that pays when either of these types of hits results in an injury.

  5. csmit44 says: Aug 6, 2012 9:59 AM

    Oh No!

    Football players are hitting each other…HARD!

  6. polarbear71 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:01 AM

    Kolb is a backup at best.

  7. Steeler's Will-enator says: Aug 6, 2012 10:01 AM

    “Indeed, when former Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren said of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, ”One rule they used to tell me: Kill the head and the body’s dead,….”

    ———————
    According to NFL dot com, Warren started one of the games against Pittsburgh in 2004 and recorded 1 tackle, no sacks. He became a Bronco the very next season.

  8. trseann says: Aug 6, 2012 10:04 AM

    They were told to stop. They didn’t stop.

  9. geeeeemen says: Aug 6, 2012 10:04 AM

    I am slowly changing my opinion on this matter. When the Saints sacked a QB and he got hurt, that is a bounty? When another team did it, it’s not? I’ve heard numerous sideline banter on teams other then the Saints where after a good play the player will yell, “Let’e eat” or motion his hand to his mouth like he’s eating.

    Idk, maybe Gregg Williams was all talk. It’s just words. Can’t simple research show if over 4 years, the Saints had more 15 yard penalties than average? More roughing the passers or more late hits? It shouldn’t be hard to get that information.

    I think my opinion is this. If I was a Saints fan, I’d be really pissed about this.

  10. thetroofishere says: Aug 6, 2012 10:04 AM

    ” A clean, legal hit that resulted in an opponent leaving the game.”

    Don’t players get bonuses anyway for reaching playing time and performance thresholds? i.e. 2000 yds rushing, double-digit receiving TDs, etc?

  11. saintij says: Aug 6, 2012 10:06 AM

    I wish I would have saved all my earlier post from march because its all coming to past the league’s game of chicken is about to come to an end. even if the deal is false its already out there and has to have some truth to it?!

  12. FinFan68 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:06 AM

    rationalizing or minimizing the actions or intent will not make then any less of a violation. they put money into a pool for performance and paid out extra money for injuries. that is a bounty system. if the evidence of money offered for specific players is valid, the system is all the more heinous. the league should have investigated the giants as well for the pubic comments for a similar intent vs. the 49ers

  13. geauxjay says: Aug 6, 2012 10:07 AM

    I love how the only highlight I saw this morning on NFL Network and 20 times during the halftime show was this play.

    Not the touchdowns. ONLY this play.

    And you wonder why Saints fans think the team is the victim of a league and media witch hunt. Conditioning at its finest.

  14. sterilizecromartie says: Aug 6, 2012 10:08 AM

    Lol. Congratulations. You are finally starting to sound like me when I was saying the same exact thing months ago when this thing first blew up.

  15. samoanjungle says: Aug 6, 2012 10:32 AM

    The tackle really didn’t look that hard. Not hard enough to injure most NFL QBs.

  16. imageflood says: Aug 6, 2012 10:33 AM

    Players making safe, clean and crushingly hard hits is totally fine, that’s what the game is about. Players getting paid to injure other players so that they can’t do their jobs anymore is NOT totally fine — it’s a crime in fact.

  17. Alex Schutten says: Aug 6, 2012 10:36 AM

    “Paying a guy like Ellis for doing his job during the third defensive series is, philosophically, no different than paying Malcolm Jenkins for the interception he notched during the first defensive series of the game.”

    The problem is that they weren’t paying guys for interceptions, or for 3rd down stops, or fumbles, or other game changing plays.

    They were paying for other players to get injured. And while injuries happen in the game, it is a hard hitting sport, injury is not the purpose of the game.

  18. hudson1285 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:37 AM

    thetroofishere says:
    Aug 6, 2012 10:04 AM
    ” A clean, legal hit that resulted in an opponent leaving the game.”

    Don’t players get bonuses anyway for reaching playing time and performance thresholds? i.e. 2000 yds rushing, double-digit receiving TDs, etc?

    —————————–

    You’re missing the point. Yes, they do get bonuses, in some cases, when they are written into their contract. When they are not, they are violations of the salary cap and fall under “pay for performace,” which is why the players were suspended.

    Think about it: if teams could hand out cash for great plays and not have it count toward the cap, they could get any free agent by promising $10k for every pass completed, etc. Would render the cap useless.

  19. regulator01 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:41 AM

    like it or not, the nfl, goodell in particular decide what should and shouldnt happen with each nfl team. the saints were told in 2009 to discontinue bounty program, they choose to ignore those orders,they are being punished more for their arrogance and above the law attitude than any program they actually ran.when your boss tells you to stop something and you continue, there are gonna be ramifications,i hope everyone that reads this board knows that, so why are saints fans up in arms?they did it to themselves

  20. righton989 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:42 AM

    The Saints were coached to play dirty and deliberatetly maim opposing players for a extra financial incentive. When investigated, the coaches and players lied and continue to lie. They prefer to blame the NFL HQ more for being found out than changing their criminal behavior.

  21. flapjackdaddy says: Aug 6, 2012 10:43 AM

    Skelton is their future (if either of the two QB are). Cut bait on Kolb. He’s soft.

  22. hpeters77 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:49 AM

    I dont know but in my eyes that look like a clean hit

  23. realitypolice says: Aug 6, 2012 10:50 AM

    The reason that giving special recognition and financial rewards to players who knock people out of games is not stop plays like the one Ellis made last night. It is to stop the illegal hits that are designed purely to injure.

    Applying the term “bounty” does not create the false impression that defensive players were doing anything illegal to get paid. It’s video of Saints players making indefensible, unnecessary hits on players that creates the TRUE impression that players were doing illegal things to get paid.

    So I don’t understand why you think it would be beneficial for the league to point out that Ellis would have been paid for this legal hit.

    Making hard hits is a players job, it is what he is receiving a salary for. There is no reason to further incentivize them for injuring other players.

  24. EJ says: Aug 6, 2012 10:54 AM

    At this rate Kevin Kolb will be riding the pine this year, he just can’t stay upright and on the field. Looks as if Skelton won’t have to try as hard as previously thought, Kolb is just going to hand him the job.

  25. Packernet says: Aug 6, 2012 10:55 AM

    If they were paid under the table for clean legal hits it is a bounty. It has nothing to do with the hits and everything to do with the payments.

  26. hail74 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:57 AM

    As a skins fan i have no love for the system of punishment in place but i still believe the saints are being overly punished for lying about the bounty scandel in 2009 when asked and then for not stopping it.

  27. robf2010 says: Aug 6, 2012 11:13 AM

    The infraction that was so minor in 2009 that the team was told to “knock it off” was just as minor in 2012. The penalties are ridiculously excessive.

  28. realdealsteel says: Aug 6, 2012 11:19 AM

    The Saints punishment is because they didn’t stop doing the “pay for performance” program like the other 15 teams that the league caught!

    Giants, Packers, Ravens, Chiefs, Vikings, Cardinals and Seahawks are just a few of the other teams who had the same program.

  29. insidej0b says: Aug 6, 2012 11:21 AM

    No, you’re missing the point. If the punishments were for salary cap violations then it should have been handled in arbitration by Stephen Burbank, not by Goodell. Now that it’s clear there was no pay to injure scheme, you haters start crying foul about salary cap violations. Can’t wait till this kind of stuff happens to your team.

  30. insidej0b says: Aug 6, 2012 11:23 AM

    Packernet says:
    Aug 6, 2012 10:55 AM
    If they were paid under the table for clean legal hits it is a bounty. It has nothing to do with the hits and everything to do with the payments.

    No, it has to do with intent, as the league has stated all along. If it was the payments, the discipline wouldn’t have been handled by Goodell. The league cannot have it both ways.

  31. themage78 says: Aug 6, 2012 11:27 AM

    So they have to get a bonus one of their fellow teammates pays in order to pay hard? I thought that’s why they made millions of dollars.

    These bounties in the thousands of dollars are essentially bets they made with each other to take people off the field. Either legally or illegally.

  32. buffalose says: Aug 6, 2012 11:30 AM

    Why do we defend Williams? The statement kill the head and the body will die is a commonly used statement, we get that now, g Williams didn’t invent it. BUT. When people use it they refer to the leader as the head ie the QB. Or if your playing the saints, stop the pass game and the run game wont work.If you stop the qb the rest will fall apart around him . Greg Williams was not making an analogy, he was actually talking about a head. More specifically frank gores head stop defending him with stupid arguments that only make sense if you are annoyingly biased

  33. ghlatty says: Aug 6, 2012 11:30 AM

    Totally agree that the Saint’s Pay for Performance scheme was a violation of the salary cap. So, now will the Commish suspend General Managers, Coaches and Players for salary cap violations?? Just an abuse of power by Roger.

  34. Nevis says: Aug 6, 2012 11:35 AM

    What is so difficult for Saints apologists to understand? The suspensions were handed down because of the bounty program and INTENT, regardless of how “clean” certain tackles may have been.

    It doesn’t matter if the hits are clean, or if “no one was hurt” — it matters that there was premeditated intent.

  35. goodolebaghead says: Aug 6, 2012 11:49 AM

    I don’t get why everyone thinks they didn’t stop after 2009. Every shred of the NFL’s evidence and charges stem from games before 2009 ended. Not once has any of it had to do with a game in 2010-2011. Seems to me like they stopped.

  36. wiley16350 says: Aug 6, 2012 11:50 AM

    I don’t understand why people are confused about why the Saints were punished. They were punished because players were paid whenever opponents were carted off the field or injured and incapable of returning, sometimes for specific players. It never mattered to the NFL whether the injuries were caused by intentional actions of the Saints or by pure happenstance. It also didn’t matter whether the injuries were within the rules or outside of the rules. All that mattered was that Football players were celebrating the injuries of their opponents by paying each other when they occured. The Saints were also penalized because the coaches not only were involved but also led and encouraged it. Lastly, the Saints were punished more harshly because they did not stop the program when advised to, lied directly to Goodell about the existence of the program and proceeded to try and cover it up. So the only way the Saints can be exonerated is if they have proof that there was no exchange of money for injuries.

  37. righton989 says: Aug 6, 2012 12:36 PM

    PFT should have the Gregg Bountyman tape on permanent link. It will remind everyone that Sean Peyton enabled a mindset to maim and cripple opposing players to win games. It was part of the Saints culture for years and would have continued for 2012 had not the NFL HQ stopped it.

  38. jc327 says: Aug 6, 2012 12:39 PM

    The issue wasn’t so much the hits as the fact that players can’t be paid outside of what’s lined out in their contracts.

    Sounds kinda NCAA-ish I guess, in a way.

    Anyhow, I agree the league could have chosen to make their point last night. Would have been a good opportunity…

  39. musicman495 says: Aug 6, 2012 12:50 PM

    righton989 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:42 AM

    The Saints were coached to play dirty and deliberatetly maim opposing players for a extra financial incentive. When investigated, the coaches and players lied and continue to lie. They prefer to blame the NFL HQ more for being found out than changing their criminal behavior.
    ——————————–
    And the sum total of your evidence that what you say is true is Roger Goodell’s statements that it is true. Don’t you feel rather silly?

  40. tdk24 says: Aug 6, 2012 1:06 PM

    Ellis can’t help the fact that Kolb is way too fragile to play in this league, or any league for that matter.

  41. hoberkunce says: Aug 6, 2012 1:14 PM

    Clean or dirty, the hit doesn’t matter. Teams can’t reward players for injuring other players. No exceptions.

  42. thedeuceo2 says: Aug 6, 2012 1:32 PM

    Hurting quarterbacks is not a defensive linemens job. I see no problem giving a player a bonus for doing the job well. Therefore if a defensive back gets an interception, sure give them a bonus. If a qb throws so many touchdowns, sure give them a bonus. But there should be no bonuses for hurting a player.

    A defensive players job is not to hurt somebody, it is to tackle them. A lineman should not be rewarded for hurting somebody, but I see no reason why they can not be rewarded for doing there job, recording tackles and sack. There job is to make tackles, sack qb’s, force fumbles, intercept passes and so on, but NOT to hurt other players. That is where the line is drawn.

  43. blackcatsluck says: Aug 6, 2012 2:21 PM

    The point being made is that the “cart-offs” and/or “knock outs” are legal contact within the rules of the game. There are more than a hundred legal hits every game. The difference between those and the ones that got rewarded as “cart-offs” and/or “knock outs” is the fact that somebody got hurt either minor, allowing them to return, or more severely, keeping them out of the game. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that is reward for injury.

  44. FinFan68 says: Aug 6, 2012 3:18 PM

    insidej0b says:
    Aug 6, 2012 11:23 AM
    Packernet says:
    Aug 6, 2012 10:55 AM
    If they were paid under the table for clean legal hits it is a bounty. It has nothing to do with the hits and everything to do with the payments.

    No, it has to do with intent, as the league has stated all along. If it was the payments, the discipline wouldn’t have been handled by Goodell. The league cannot have it both ways.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It is both actually. The payments themselves are technically a salary cap violation but the reason(s) that prompted the payments is absolutely a disciplinary issue.

    If intent is your main focus, I understand if you do not believe that players went out and specifically targeted a player for injury. However, based on “intent” what is the reason for the extra money for “cart-offs” etc.? Coaches and players have both admitted to those as being part of a pay for performance system and said they were merely a result of legal plays. Legal/illegal hits are a matter for the field officials and the league’s subsequent weekly review process. The issue is that these guys have denied and then admitted to being involved in a pool where players and coaches put up money for the pay for performance system. That is a disciplinary issue and a salary cap issue. That same system also paid players who (even inadvertently) caused an opponent to be injured and miss some game time. That is a bounty system and they have admitted as such while awkwardly trying to install a defense of semantics. $10k for Favre is a bounty. $500 for a “cart-off” is also a bounty. Both are premeditated. Both show intent. The league has not shown specific evidence about the Favre bounty (does not mean it is not there) but they have absolutely provided plenty of “evidence” about the cart-offs. The players have not said they didn’t have the cart-off payments (after their initial denials failed). They simply said they were a result of legal plays. The problem is that the type of play doesn’t really matter. Illegal plays would have had the typical fines on top of all the “bountygate” drama.

  45. ilovefoolsball says: Aug 6, 2012 4:55 PM

    It’s just so ridiculous that Sean Payton, the team’s head coach and OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR got suspended for an entire year, disallowing him to have any contact with the team or anyone with the organization.
    That to me is the greatest injustice of all of this. I think the league could’ve sent a message loud and clear without this over the top punishment. That kind of penalty should be reserved to those who knowingly do malicious things outside the rules of the game.
    Gregg Williams should’ve been suspended like he was and Payton could’ve gotten at least half a year and I’d actually be ok with it, but an entire year is just absurd.

  46. seldom1 says: Aug 6, 2012 5:04 PM

    First, it was not a “clean” hit. All of us have seen the same style hit (fall on the QB with all your weight when a simple takedown is possible) flagged for 15 yards more than once last year.

    Second, the idiotic “One rule they used to tell me: Kill the head and the body’s dead” statement by Warren was not ignored by the Browns–Warren was never allowed to be aggressive the rest of the year and was gone the next year. Teams like Pittsburgh and New Orleans can’t say the same. And Warren never alleged that it was the Browns’ coaches who told him that in the first place; it may have been his college coaches or even a team member. In any case, as pointed out, the NFL hardly ignored the statement. Nor did the media.

    Third, I miss the point of this: “While we understand that the ability to earn some extra cash could prompt a guy to break the rules in the hopes of cashing in, the micro incentive to pocket a little extra walking-around money must be regarded simultaneously with the macro incentive of winning the war of attrition by hitting guys so hard — cleanly — that they can’t keep playing.”

    It sounds as though a dirty hit for money (two illegal acts) “must be regarded simultaneously” with the legal incentive of winning the war of attrition by hitting hard but cleanly.

  47. tatum064 says: Aug 6, 2012 7:18 PM

    Gotta love how Skelton tried to extend a hand to Kolb to show support as he came in to back him up and Kolb ignored him. Dude is gripping. He knows time is running out. Don’t think players or coaches don’t pick up on that, either. Kolb needs a big game next week.

    Skelton looks like the starter. Even Kolb knows it.

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