Without question, bounties make a difference

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In the wake of the Spygate scandal, one of the defenses offered up on behalf of the Patriots centered on the fairly simple notion that having advance knowledge of a team’s defensive coaching signals really didn’t help win football games.

The fairly simple response?  The Patriots wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t think it helped.

That’s the same reaction to the suggestion that bounties in the amount of $1,000 or $1,500 or, in the case of Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game, $10,000 would actually make a player play harder.

With a Super Bowl ring and all that that implies firmly within grasp, does a little extra money really matter?

Apparently, it does.  Or the Saints wouldn’t have done it.

If there’s any doubt, consider the words for former NFL safety Matt Bowen.  He played for the Redskins under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and Bowen not only admits that it happened but also explains why it worked.

“It was our gig, our plan, our way to motivate, to extra-motivate,” Bowen writes in an item for the Chicago Tribune.

As Bowen accurately points out, plenty of other teams do the same thing.  Friday’s announcement by the league represents an acknowledgement that the time has come for the practice to end.

And so the worst thing the Saints arguably did was get caught.  Still, whether the fact that other teams have done it results in less of a sanction for the Saints isn’t known.

What is known is that the NFL won’t allow any of it going forward, and that the next team to be caught doing it in 2012 or beyond will get a much stiff punishment than whatever the league will do to the Saints.

53 responses to “Without question, bounties make a difference

  1. I hope Goodell crushes the Saints. They’ve been dirty for years and anyone watching semi-closely could see it.
    I’m no Vikings or Favre fan, but what the Saints D did to him was ridiculous. The NFL isn’t MMA. The idea is to score more points against the best players your opponent has, not take them out with cheap shots.

  2. The other teams also do it excuse really should not work here.I remember the time when my friend was caught speeding at 79 in a 65mph zone and he tried to give the cop the excuse that his car was the slowest in the pack of cars over-speeding in that area :p

  3. This thing is getting way out of hand. I wonder what all the people bashing the Saints would say if they found out there favorite team did this too, which is likely

  4. Where the problem lies is the Saints knew it was against league rules and against player safety. I don’t care how many team maybe doing it because that number could be between 0-32. The fact is the Saints did it and got caught and the penalty should be severe.

  5. Trying to injure players is unacceptable. If the Franchise knew about intentional attempts at injury and encouraged it, then the Franchise needs to be punished. End of story.

  6. That’s a mature argument there. How would fans of other teams react if their favorite team did this (which is likely)? And I know YOU are, but what am I? Look, ask that question when the league has 50,000 pages and reams of tape as evidence on another team. Until then, the Saints and their thin-skinned fans can take their medicine.

  7. At my wife’s work, which is almost 100% female, the women are having a hard time getting along. A lot of back-biting, and name calling, and snitching, and petty crap like that.

    And so now they are each given, essentially, Schrutebucks to hand out to their coworkers every week and then all the Schrutebucks go in a bowl and one is chosen and whoever it belongs to gets a gift card.

    It’s not much of a gift card, and no one really needs it, but the small incentive is supposed to build teamwork and all that.

    So, what I’m really trying to say is…..any NFL player who needs a minor reward to motivate him to exceed at his job….is a woman.

  8. Glad to see the Saints exposed as the cheaters they were in 09. The Vikings were clearly the better team that day and Favre was clearly the better QB.

  9. This “It shouldn’t be a big deal because other teams do it” is getting a bit ridiculous. How likely is it that other teams have an outside convicted felon pouring in money that everyone knew about from the owner, to GM, to head coach and defensive coordinator.

    The Saints should be punished heavily and made an example of. I’ve always wondered why they were so celebratory after seeing several cheap shots, now I why..

  10. Has anyone gone bakc and looked at how often the Saints were penalized either on the field or by the league office for unacceptable hits over the last 3 years? I’m willing to bet they aren’t even in the top 10 most penalized franchises. Outside of the 2009 playoffs, can anyone really say they’ve considered the Saints “hard hitting”?

  11. The bounties might be wrong, but people crucifying the Saints for it is ridiculous. This is professional tackle football. When the refs think a hit is dirty, they throw the flag and the team gets 15 yards. Troy Aikman is right that the NFL will lose its luster one day, but it’s going to be because the game is no longer violent. Don’t kid yourself, that’s why we watch. We wouldn’t watch the same athletes play flag football.

  12. Its “Football” people…….. The game is rough and violent. That’s why I played football instead of basketball. could never understand the act of a touch foul when the goal was to not let the person score a basket. what’s next? Boxers should not plan to knockout their opponent, but instead just box only to accumulate points.

  13. In 2009, the Saints ranked 22, 27, and 15 in total defensive penalties, total yards penalized due to defensive penalties, and average yards per defensive penalty. That’s below Indianapolis, Minnesota and Arizona in all categories for that year. They ranked even lower in 2010.

    They deserve whatever punishment they get, but it’s hard to say that bounties make a difference based on stats.

  14. you show me proof that a Tony Dungy led team did it and I will believe that “everybody does it”

  15. This is worse than SpyGate but not as bad as the Rothlesberger Rapes, I think it lies somewhere in between.I think a first round pick and two game suspension it fair.

  16. If you’re going to punish the saints, punish the redskins and the other teams that admit to it too.

  17. The idea that they wouldn’t have done it is a logic fallacy. It may have helped, but just because they were doing it doesn’t mean it did. To say that they were ating is quite the overstatement. Yes, it was wrong, as it is against the rules and put player safety at risk, but to think that it ruined the integrity of the game is downright silly.

  18. The thing this has in common with spygate is simple. In spygate there was a clear rule not to film the opposing teams sideline from your own sideline. The Patriots were warned, continued anyway and were punished appropriately for breaking the rule.

    In the case of the Saints it is the same. They broke a clear rule despite warnings and team exec were involved too. They will be punished just as severely.

  19. It seems to me the league will only be able to go after coaches and players and not franchises in this fiasco. How do you go after on of his former teams without going after the other franchises williams coached on now that former players like Bowen admit it? I’m assuming we’ll see 4 game suspensions for suspected players and a 1yr ban for Williams. Who knows what fines will look like.

  20. I hope the league comes down HARD on the Saints. After the NFL has been emphasizing player safety so much, this is just like rubbing the rules in their face.

  21. Where did the cash come from? Shouldn’t it count against the salary cap, or was this another way to circumvent it?

  22. It seems the older fans want to keep the NFL as it was years ago when Jack Youngblood broke a leg and continued to play. The injuries can cause permanent damage but to some it is worth it to keep the game as it was played because the injury is happening to the player and not the fan. There has to be rules that maintain a level of safety and some resemblance to the game of football but we as fans if we want the game to continue should understand it takes rules to insure safety for those that are entertaining us.

  23. It truly amazes me that with the ridiculous salaries that these players and coaches are being paid, WHY on earth would 1000 or 1500 dollars make a difference? Though, I guess they’d probably sell their mother for $50.

    Front office and coaches should all be fired and draft choices taken away. Plain and simple.

  24. Accusation without due process always seems to work.

    If practiced by others, then all should be punished.

    Bad practice by any team. But how do you prove that it goes on by other teams??? What about looking at the evidence of teams that actually do injure players? That is more factual.

  25. i remember the Giants did this a few years back, except it wasn’t from the head coaches, it was a wager between the d-line players.

    they were pretty open about it too.

  26. Shows you the mentality of defensive players in the NFL, how they purposely attempt to hurt offensive players. The league is now an offensive league. The salary cap will be going up over the course of the current CBA, especially with the increased TV revenue in a few years. Since offense is driving NFL revenue and TV ratings, therefore driving the salary cap, you’d think defensive players wouldn’t feel comfortable in attempting to hurt offensive players.

    Makes me wonder if this expands across teams. Be easy to see a situation where someone one like Bernard Pollard gets a bounty from someone on another team for hurting Brady, Welker and then Gronk over the last few years.

  27. You wrote:
    And so the worst thing the Saints arguably did was get caught.

    No. The Saints were caught breaking the rules, told by the league to stop breaking the rules and then continued to go on breaking the rules. That type of blatant disregard for the authority of the league can’t / won’t be tolerated. Additionally, Williams admitted that he knew it was wrong at the time they were doing it but did it anyway or said slightly differently, he knew it was cheating but decided to do it anyway.

  28. Must be a genational thing….. people now dont care if thier favorite football team loses as long as thier fantasy football team wins then is ok. I want my favorite team defense to knock the crap out of whoever they are playing. I want them to knock the QB out if they have a chance and bring in the back up or if a WR comes across the middle to make him think twice about it when he does it again. I dont care if the NFL wants 5000 yard passers ect ect.. I want a great D that people are afraid of … no matter what your view is… They might as well just do 7 on 7 games with no lineman and just let it be a pass happy league so someone can throw for 6000 yards and act like it is an accomplishment

  29. Has anyone looked back at teh saints defenses over the last few years. I mean the 09 team defense was ok but I wouldnt’ put that year on bounties, I would put that on the ability of sharper and the dbs to get ints and pick 6s.

    in ’10 and ’11 Saints D has been horrendous. So I can’t really say this bounty this helped them. Just seems like a tradition endemic throughout the NFL.

  30. Honestly, I think this story has come out at a great time for the league. This is a chance for them to really make a team pay to show that they are really serious about player safety in this league. This is clearly not the only team doing it but they now have a chance to put a stop to it because of the severity of this instance. It’s a black mark on the NFL and Saints for sure but it is also a big opportunity for the NFL to step up and deliver.

  31. like spygate, bountygate is much ado about nothing, and I don’t think Bowen ever collected a bounty the way he played.

  32. Conclusion: “Without question, bounties make a difference.”

    does not follow from

    Evidence: “The Patriots wouldn’t have done [a different thing] if they didn’t THINK it helped.”

    They may have made a difference, but this is not a logical argument.

  33. @clayton43: The NFL is trying to sell their product overseas and to women to generate more $$. Apparently women and foreigners don’t like violent hits so they’ve been handcuffing defenses more and more since 2001. I’m with you though, when a defender can get run into by a WR and get a flag(Welker vs. Webb in the AFC championship) or a WR can bodyslam a defender and NOT get a flag (Burress vs. Giants DB week 16) there’s really no point having a defense. London Fletcher was flagging for roughing Brady’s head when he never even came close to his head. It’s ridiculous.

  34. I remember Jerome Brown playing for the original bounty hunter…Buddy Ryan “pointing his finger and saying they are taking them out of here in body bags man”

    it was poetic justice to see what happened to that steroid slugging loser soon afterwards

    so we can add Phillie the Giants Baltimore the Jets …what other ex-players have an axe to grind to trash a former coach or team?

    New England needed a bounty incentive

  35. mike83ri says:
    Mar 3, 2012 2:47 PM
    I’m a Pats fan. And this feels like Xmas morning.

    why? this doesn’t change anything. your team cheated their way to 3 championships.

    be honest, what have they won since they stopped taping signals? the stats and the playoff results don’t lie.

    don’t worry dude, real fans haven’t forgotten about the pats…

  36. Without question? Well, I will question it. By your logic anything anyone tries must work or be worthwhile doing, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried it. That’s inane Foolio. Without question.

    As for Vikings fans who are getting their knickers in a knot, if you think this made a difference in the title game you are suggesting that little extra bit of effort mattered and that somehow the Vikings were unable to overcome that. This didn’t give the Saints an advantage, unlike what Spygate gave the Pats. It’s quite incredible what a stupid and foolish lot you are.

    As for Saints fans, your team broke the rules, as clearly as the Pats broke one. You can cry and whine all you want about how much this may or may not be done and how immaterial it is to the outcome of a game. The fact is they broke the rules, were told not to, and then continued to break them. If you can’t get over why this has annoyed the Commissioner then you are as stupid and foolish as
    Vikings fans are.

  37. does a little extra money really matter?

    Apparently, it does. Or the Saints wouldn’t have done it

    Just because a course of action is taken does not guarantee there will be results from that course of action.

  38. Yes, I’m a Pats fan, so I do have a bias. But here is the thing: the “everybody does it so we shouldn’t be punished” argument didn’t work for the Patriots. Here is another thing: what the Patriots did IS NOT CRIMINAL. It IS against the law to accept money as compensation for services and not declare it as taxable income to the IRS. It IS illegal to pay another person money to intentionally harm someone. It IS illegal to accept money to intentionally harm someone.

    Right now the league office should be thinking seriously about this: they are aware of the commission of felony assault, assault for hire and various other crimes. If they fail to report this evidence, they could be held responsible for aiding and abetting, etc.

  39. “i remember the Giants did this a few years back, except it wasn’t from the head coaches, it was a wager between the d-line players.”

    “they were pretty open about it too”

    Think it’s still going on. Of course, you forgot to mention it was a bounty for sacks, strips, fumble recoveries, and batted passes. All perfectly legal. All within the rules. Guys got fined for having bad games, as well.

  40. I’ve spent some time on the premise that “It must be effective otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.”

    I’ve decided I reject that.

    We do lots of things in life that are wasted energy.

    Coaching techniques have dramatically changed in the past ten years. They were relatively the same for about 3 decades before that.

    Clearly they weren’t as effective as they are now, yet some coaches held/hold onto the old style of doing things “because that is the way we’ve always done it”

  41. Glad to see the Saints exposed as the cheaters they were in 09. The Vikings were clearly the better team that day and Favre was clearly the better QB.
    The Vikings were sloppy and not “clearly” the better team.

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