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Report: Fujita will deny existence of bounty program in Goodell meeting

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

In a development that hardly can be called “breaking news” because it’s neither “breaking” nor “news,” Browns linebacker Scott Fujita will deny the existence of a bounty program in New Orleans during his Friday meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.

Specifically, Fujita will reinforce the prior testimony that there was “no pay-for-injury system” and no bounty program during Fujita’s time with the Saints.

It would have been “breaking news” if Fujita had planned to walk into the conference room and confess.

Here’s the primary issue, which continues to be largely ignored or misunderstood.  No one has disputed that the Saints had a pay-for-performance system.  And it appears that the pay-for-performance system included payment for clean, legal hits that prevented opponents from continuing.

The league has at times tiptoed around the question of whether giving guys a little walking-around money to do something they already have an incentive to do merits stiff punishment of the players involved.  The players have insisted that there never was a payment offered for deliberately inflicting injury — and, technically, there wasn’t.  But the system also may have resulted in a technical violation of rules, based on how the league defines the term “bounty.”

The real factual dispute comes from whether there were specific bounties placed on specific players.  The NFL claims that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Kurt Warner out of the 2009 NFC divisional playoff game and $10,000 to anyone who knocked Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game.  Vilma denies it, strongly.

Fujita is accused only of funding the broader program.  And the question becomes whether the general contributions he allegedly made to a pool that generated payments for big plays and big hits rise to the level of something that compels his suspension for three games, especially since he was simply participating in a program that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams put in place.

That’s another point everyone seems to be missing.  Though the players shouldn’t be blameless if the allegations are true, football players do what they’re told to do.  When the players have no reason to think that there’s anything wrong with a petty-cash system that provides the equivalent of a helmet sticker for doing things players already try to do, there’s no reason to question what the coach wants the players to do.

Here, there were no warnings for the players.  Based on the suspensions issued, there also was little or no consideration given to the practicalities of the situation.  Regardless of what was happening, the Saints weren’t delivering Nancy Kerrigan knee hits after the whistle.  Guys were playing football hard, and when they did things that helped the team win, they got recognition via a fraction of what they already were paid to do what they already had an incentive to do.

We realize that it’s important for the league to seal off any potential avenues for future concussion litigation, but there’s a way to do that while also being fair to the players who saw no problem with exchanging a little extra money for doing what they already were trying to do.

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48 Responses to “Report: Fujita will deny existence of bounty program in Goodell meeting”
  1. purpleguy says: Sep 28, 2012 10:54 AM

    I’d almost prefer another replacement ref article than this never-ending story about semantics.

  2. thejabronisayz says: Sep 28, 2012 11:04 AM

    If he has the audacity to deny the existence of a bounty program NOW, at this point, then suspend him for the season.

  3. kattykathy says: Sep 28, 2012 11:05 AM

    There was no “bounty” system.

    Goodell is a power crazed psycho only trying to reduce litigation risk at a sacrificial lambs expense.

    People that believe in Goodell are easily manipulated and gullible.

    The NFL is is less respected and is seen as more shady than the other big sports since Goodell took over.

    Greg Williams lied and will never coach again.

    The above are all facts.

  4. dalucks says: Sep 28, 2012 11:07 AM

    I am not a Saints fan but there is a possibility a bounty program did not exist. The media needs to do a better job of informing people the difference between a bounty program vs. a pay for performance program. Has anyone thought that Greg Williams lied to Roger in a effort to reduce his indefinite suspension?

  5. mogogo1 says: Sep 28, 2012 11:07 AM

    The NFL claims that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Kurt Warner out of the 2009 NFC divisional playoff game and $10,000 to anyone who knocked Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game. Vilma denies it, strongly.
    __________________

    Actually, Vilma has steered completely around the question of whether he ever offered the $10K. What he actually has denied is paying it or intending to pay it. That’s an important difference.

    In his statement released after his suspension was announced, this is what Vilma says “I never paid, or intended to pay, $10,000, or any amount of money…” This is a great bit of lawyerese: He sidesteps what he was actually accused of (offering the money) and concentrates on whether he actually paid it. But, if it had never been offered, why would he say he “never intended to pay”? That statement only makes sense if he actually did make the offer.

  6. goodellgate says: Sep 28, 2012 11:09 AM

    ***based on how the league defines the term “bounty.”***

    The problem is that, since this story broke up, Goodell gave us multiple définitions of what a bounty is..

  7. 49erstim says: Sep 28, 2012 11:10 AM

    So he admits to intentionally trying to knock a player out of a game? … and he was paid extra for that? What does bounty mean again? sheesh!

  8. macwomack says: Sep 28, 2012 11:15 AM

    Granted money was flowing from player to player – and not club to player – but it seems there are still some salary cap issues (may be even tax issues) associated with these payments.

    I don’t expect the cap issue to be raised unless the Saints end up facing the Giants in the playoffs. At which point we’ll get to see round two (or three) of John Mara’s rightous indignation.

  9. dalucks says: Sep 28, 2012 11:16 AM

    Thanks for trying to explain the difference between a pay for performance plan vs. a bounty program but as I read the comments I realize that that is above a lot of people’s head. Some people struggle to comprehend the details of the story. Then again, they probably only read the headline instead of the actual story.

  10. knackstermyea says: Sep 28, 2012 11:20 AM

    Remember Falkor the Luck Dragon in “The Never Ending Story” ?

  11. olcap says: Sep 28, 2012 11:22 AM

    In other words, he’s going to just outright lie.

  12. dryzzt23 says: Sep 28, 2012 11:26 AM

    I am so sick of Fujita, Vilma, Will Smith, and Brees. IMO they are all guilty but are brazenly ripping Goodell b/c they are protected by the NFLPA and the sports media. Meanwhile, Goodell has no protection.

    The Saints are 0-3 and they deserve it, especially those involved in the bounty program. I hope they go 0-16 and then Goodell takes their 2013 1st rd pick for their boorish behavior.

  13. goodolebaghead says: Sep 28, 2012 11:26 AM

    Thank You, Mike! At least someone sees it from the Saints POV. None of us fans have claimed the Saints weren’t breaking rules, but it’s obvious from game tape they weren’t hitting any way they wouldn’t already be hitting with our without money involved. Punishments are in order, but to decimate a team and make them noncompetitive hurts the fans more than anyone else.

  14. addmack24 says: Sep 28, 2012 11:27 AM

    what about the jets saying that they were going to knock Reggie Bush out of the game this past weekend? They successfully knocked him out and talked about it after the game. Is this not a bounty? Going into the game with the intention of knocking some player out and actually doing it? The Saints never put any player out of the game from any hit clean or dirty. I realize that Goodell used to work for the Jets organization and won’t do anything but at least be consistant. Saints fans in general Hate Goodell for making the Saints a scapegoat, when there are other teams openly addmitting to doing the same thing if not worst, by actually putting someone out of the game by injuring them. Every team does this in one form or another. Free Sean Payton!!!

  15. laxgolie19 says: Sep 28, 2012 11:30 AM

    Love the picture. This is right before Flacco juked him out of his shoes for the TD run haha.

  16. sb44champs says: Sep 28, 2012 11:35 AM

    49erstim says:
    Sep 28, 2012 11:10 AM
    So he admits to intentionally trying to knock a player out of a game? … and he was paid extra for that? What does bounty mean again? sheesh!
    —————————–
    Of course this is coming from a jealous NFC oppenent’s fan base, everyone knows the 49er fans HATE Drew and the Saints because we actually won the big one in the last couple of decades…. Wah, wah, wah.. stop crying!!!!!

  17. sb44champs says: Sep 28, 2012 11:38 AM

    dryzzt23 says:
    Sep 28, 2012 11:26 AM
    I am so sick of Fujita, Vilma, Will Smith, and Brees. IMO they are all guilty but are brazenly ripping Goodell b/c they are protected by the NFLPA and the sports media. Meanwhile, Goodell has no protection.

    The Saints are 0-3 and they deserve it, especially those involved in the bounty program. I hope they go 0-16 and then Goodell takes their 2013 1st rd pick for their boorish behavior.
    ———————————-
    Dude, do you realize how much some fans are sick of the GODell slurpers that believe everything that proven liar says!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. bigjdve says: Sep 28, 2012 11:43 AM

    kattykathy: There was a bounty system and is from what Judge Berrigan has stated.

    remember when she stated that a Pay for Play program and a bounty program were the same thing?

    Maybe Williams lied, I don’t know. What I do know is that the Saints players lied when they said they weren’t part of the system and then when the coaches said there was one, they admitted to being part of it.

    You are right, Williams probably won’t ever coach again.

  19. sdisme says: Sep 28, 2012 11:43 AM

    @ mogogo1

    Actually Vilma also says he never pledged money… and you are right, he is avoiding the word offered.

    If you really paid attention to the case, you would know supposedly Vilma offered $10,000 to his teammates for the head of Warner in their 2009 playoff game with the Arizona Cardinals. But there are also reports that the money was given to him in the first place by his defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Vilma gave it back to him after that game, saying he didn’t want to be in charge of it anymore.

    As for the Vikings game it’s thought Williams brought up the money again.

  20. scrummymustard says: Sep 28, 2012 11:46 AM

    “laxgolie19 says:
    Sep 28, 2012 11:30 AM
    Love the picture. This is right before Flacco juked him out of his shoes for the TD run haha.”

    Were you and I not watching the same game??? because I remember an O-lineman in front of Flacco blocking Fujita

  21. thatboybaked says: Sep 28, 2012 11:48 AM

    Perhaps someone could clarify this for me, but hasn’t there been many cases throughout NFL history where players have been paid extra incentive for reaching certain milestones or stats for their position? How is that any different for the saints paying players for clean tackles.

    And yes, I know the whole fuss is about players being paid to make injury inducing tackles, but I am just speaking in terms of incentive programs teams put together.

  22. jealst says: Sep 28, 2012 11:48 AM

    dryzzt23 says:
    Sep 28, 2012 11:26 AM
    I am so sick of Fujita, Vilma, Will Smith, and Brees. IMO they are all guilty but are brazenly ripping Goodell b/c they are protected by the NFLPA and the sports media. Meanwhile, Goodell has no protection.

    The Saints are 0-3 and they deserve it, especially those involved in the bounty program. I hope they go 0-16 and then Goodell takes their 2013 1st rd pick for their boorish behavior.

    _______________________

    By this comment, I’m lead to believe the Saints have beaten your favorite team once or multiple times over the past three year (maybe longer). Only a fan who’s desperate for the Saints to be crippled would hope for the Saints to be 0-16 and lose their 1st RD pick. Geez, man, instead if hoping for the failures of other, perhaps you should just hope your team gets better.

  23. fflsean says: Sep 28, 2012 11:48 AM

    Why doesn’t the NFL or ESPN just show that video of Anthony Hargrove yelling “Pay me my money” when Joe Vitt thought they broke Favre’s leg?

    Play it on a continuous loop like the Seahawks interception/td and ask Vilma and Fujita explain

  24. randomguy9999 says: Sep 28, 2012 12:31 PM

    it doesn’t matter kinda language gets used….

    they got paid to injure guys on purpose… for years… after being warned… and they got caught …. and some admitted it…

    just like the moon landing and Elvis is actually dead…. they did it and deserve a serious punishment

  25. bambam4 says: Sep 28, 2012 12:35 PM

    Ignorance of the law is no defense. The players did not need a warning as to the dire consequences of a participating in a bounty program. These are adults, grown men, alleged professionals. The players knew that the bounty program was illegal. In fact, the players are very lucky that there has been no criminal prosecution like NHL players face on occasion for intentional acts outside the game, i.e., inflicting injury intentionally.

  26. justsayin973 says: Sep 28, 2012 12:35 PM

    It’s amazing how many ppl are so ignorant to the whole alleged “bounty” program even though there’s about 1,000 articles about it.
    Everyone, including the players I’m sure, are just ready for this to all be over & done w/.
    In order for that to happen, Goodell needs to turn the investigation over to the 3rd party arbitrator (where it belonged to begin w/) & let them determine if there was a pay-to-injure or pay-for-performance program. This includes lifting the gag orders on Williams, Payton & Vitt & turning over the other 49,800 documents he claims to have to the arbitrator. Then if & only if the 3rd party arbitrator determines there was in fact a pay-to-injure program, Goodell can issue punishments for conduct detrimental due to the players lying to him during his investigation. The sooner Goodell gives up control & abides by the CBA, the sinner this issue can finally be laid to rest.

  27. packhawk04 says: Sep 28, 2012 12:39 PM

    Katty kathy… do you know who believes there WAS a bounty system? Judge berrigan. She has said she considers pay for performance a bounty. Nobody has denied a pay for performance system.

  28. bigjdve says: Sep 28, 2012 12:51 PM

    justsayin973: Check your CBA, Goodell is following the CBA. There is no 3rd party arbiter, if you remember said arbiter said that it was in Goodell’s jurisdiction.

    And you are right most people are just ready for it to be over with.

  29. neauxgeaux44 says: Sep 28, 2012 12:57 PM

    Saints haters are such jealous haters…we must have really shredded your teams in prior seasons…

    are we down this year? yes…enjoy the hate while you can…your window will be short-lived…fact…

  30. addmack24 says: Sep 28, 2012 1:23 PM

    packhawk04 says:
    Sep 28, 2012 12:39 PM
    Katty kathy… do you know who believes there WAS a bounty system? Judge berrigan. She has said she considers pay for performance a bounty. Nobody has denied a pay for performance system.

    ————————————————–

    Judge Berrigan didn’t say that pay for performance was a bounty, she considered a play that paid out money that happened to injure a player a bounty. But since there doesn’t seem to be any players injured you could say there was no bounty.

  31. nispikers says: Sep 28, 2012 1:23 PM

    Sep 28, 2012 11:48 AM

    Why doesn’t the NFL or ESPN just show that video of Anthony Hargrove yelling “Pay me my money” when Joe Vitt thought they broke Favre’s leg?

    Play it on a continuous loop like the Seahawks interception/td and ask Vilma and Fujita explain
    ——————————————————–
    Because dumbcake, it was proven that this was not Anthony Hargrove’s voice on the tape and the NFL supposedly used this to suspend Hargrove!
    Do you expect Vilma and Fujita to explain to Roger how the NFL used a ficticious voice to suspend someone?

  32. htfan says: Sep 28, 2012 1:26 PM

    “Scott Fujita will deny the existence of a bounty program …”

    “No one has disputed that the Saints had a pay-for-performance system.”
    ———————————————————

    maybe no one except Fujita

  33. raidafan7 says: Sep 28, 2012 1:34 PM

    Just wondering….When Raji, Mathews and Hawk rush Drew Brees this weekend do they want to hit him as hard as they can? Deep down do they want to knock him out of the game? That is their job, whether they talk about it before hand or not. That is their job whether they wager a cup of coffee or dinner on it. They know it, Drew knows it. It is called tackle football!!! There is a bounty every game, it’s called kill the guy with the ball. Ask Josh Cribbs, He had the ball and the Ravens were looking to knock him out(and did). In the grand scheme of it all does it really matter if they talked about it before the game? What is better if you had no bounty system and knocked Cribbs out or you had a bounty system and never knocked anyone out?

  34. justsayin973 says: Sep 28, 2012 1:59 PM

    Actually, what Judge Berrigan said was the bounty scheme was a pay-for-performance issue covered by Article 14 of the CBA, which would have meant an arbitrator rather than the commissioner would have had jurisdiction over the issues in the case. Then ordered the case to be heard by the 3-member appeals panel.
    How do you translate that to the judge believes a pay for performance program is a bounty or a play where the player receives money that happens to result in injury is a bounty?
    As far as the video tape of someone saying “show me the money” context is everything & there is not enough proof to show it was in the context of “I made a qualifying hit on farve now pay me my bounty money” or “we just won the NFC champ game now pay me my $38,000 bonus the league pays each of us for advancing to the superbowl.” You may have you preconceived biased option but w/ out proof of context it would never stand up in any court of law.

  35. sb44champs says: Sep 28, 2012 2:13 PM

    28purple4mvp, maybe you should change up your favorite team instead of believing everything that comes out of a proven liar’s (GODell) mouth and running with it… lol!!!!!!

  36. saintsvstheworld says: Sep 28, 2012 2:13 PM

    28…you still wear your silly purple horn hat?

  37. hrmlss says: Sep 28, 2012 2:16 PM

    Doesn’t he know Goddell really lays the hammer down if you lie to him?

  38. sb44champs says: Sep 28, 2012 2:21 PM

    Saints = Super Bowl win against future HOF’er

    Vikings = Will never win the Big One, lol

    28purple4SALE* fix that for ya!!!

  39. kattykathy says: Sep 28, 2012 2:45 PM

    justsayin973 says: Sep 28, 2012 1:59 PM

    Actually, what Judge Berrigan said was the bounty scheme was a pay-for-performance issue covered by Article 14 of the CBA, which would have meant an arbitrator rather than the commissioner would have had jurisdiction over the issues in the case. Then ordered the case to be heard by the 3-member appeals panel.
    How do you translate that to the judge believes a pay for performance program is a bounty or a play where the player receives money that happens to result in injury is a bounty?
    As far as the video tape of someone saying “show me the money” context is everything & there is not enough proof to show it was in the context of “I made a qualifying hit on farve now pay me my bounty money” or “we just won the NFC champ game now pay me my $38,000 bonus the league pays each of us for advancing to the superbowl.” You may have you preconceived biased option but w/ out proof of context it would never stand up in any court of law.

    *************************************

    Thank you.
    I am not surprised anymore by the great lengths haters will go to, to stretch quotes and truths.
    We all know what Judge Berrigan said, but the Goodell simpletons try to lie as he does, create imaginary evidence as he does, and attempt to mislead as he does. I quit responding to those that are the minions and puppets that dont have a clue

  40. kattykathy says: Sep 28, 2012 2:50 PM

    I am now convinced that the handful of those that continue to insist here that the Saints are guilty of “BountyGate” are actually aliases of Peter King, ESPN, and Roger Goodell.

    I mean it has to be them spouting their nonsense, there just can’t be that many stupid people that post on these Saints threads.

  41. vanmorrissey says: Sep 28, 2012 3:03 PM

    Only an idiot would think he’d say, Yes, I’m guilty, there was a system for sure. Get real.

  42. 28purple4mvp says: Sep 28, 2012 3:18 PM

    saintsvstheworld says: Sep 28, 2012 2:13 PM

    28…you still wear your silly purple horn hat?

    Got your bag out yet?

  43. drgreenstreak says: Sep 28, 2012 3:19 PM

    Scott Fujita is the worst player rep in the history of the NFL.
    Fujita blatantly lies in such an arrogant manner that many hate him for his audacity as much as what he actually did.
    What makes it silly is that Fujita is a marginal player at best and had the Saints not won a Superbowl he would not even be in the league.
    I would not want this lying turd representing me.

  44. insanelomein2 says: Sep 28, 2012 3:22 PM

    If you continually tell the same lie does it eventually come true?

  45. vegasvinnie says: Sep 28, 2012 3:31 PM

    If you continually tell the same lie does it eventually come true?

    Let’s ask Roger that one. He still has yet to prove his.

  46. sb44champs says: Sep 28, 2012 3:45 PM

    28purple4mvp says:
    Sep 28, 2012 3:18 PM
    saintsvstheworld says: Sep 28, 2012 2:13 PM

    28…you still wear your silly purple horn hat?

    Got your bag out yet?
    ————–
    At least we won the Big One, lol!!!!!!!!!!

  47. brenenostler says: Sep 28, 2012 4:04 PM

    kattykathy says:
    Sep 28, 2012 11:05 AM
    There was no “bounty” system.
    _____________________________

    It seems to me like Fujita is going to say that they never intentionally meant to injure opponents, but they gave money if you happened to. But I don’t buy that for one second. If $10,000 if offered to knock someone out, are you going to tell me that you wouldn’t be purposely trying to knock that person out of the game??? Doesn’t matter if the hit is clean and legal. Players get injured on clean, legal hits all the time.

    I understand that it’s football and that some players do try to hurt each other. But placing money on it is awful. It ruins the intergrity of the game. It makes the NFL look terrible, at a time when the long-term effects of injuries are becoming very known. And as Kurt Warner said, bounties make a big difference.

    Call it what you want “pay-for-performance, bounty” but the Saints did pay each other for injuring opponents.

  48. gennieleko says: Sep 29, 2012 12:45 PM

    drgreenstreak says:
    Sep 28, 2012 3:19 PM

    “Scott Fujita is the worst player rep in the history of the NFL.”

    Do you know a single blessed thing about this man other than what Roger has told you?

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