Report: Bills had bounty system under Gregg Williams

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Buddy Ryan once said Kevin Gilbride should be selling insurance.  One of their colleagues at the time very well may be, soon.

Gregg Williams, who spent a decade with the Oilers/Titans before becoming the head coach of the Bills, now faces allegations of running a bounty program in a third NFL city:  Buffalo.

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reports that multiple former Bills players allege that Williams maintained such a system during his three seasons as the teams head coach, from 2001 through 2003.  Former safety Coy Wire told Graham that “[t]here was financial compensation” for inflicting injury.  Two other former players speaking on the condition of anonymity said the same thing.

“That’s real,” Wire said.  “That happened in Buffalo.  There were rewards.  There never was a point where cash was handed out in front of the team.  But surely, you were going to be rewarded.  When somebody made a big hit that hurt an opponent, it was commended and encouraged.”

Though Wire claims he never received any payment (which may be related to potential IRS complications), Wire acknowledged that he was praised for delivering a career-ending injury during a preseason game.  “I shattered [running back] James Stewart’s shoulder, and he never played again,” Wire said.  “I was showered with praise for that.  It’s a shame that’s how it was.  Now I see how wrong that was.”

Other former Bills claim that Williams didn’t encourage players to injure opponents.  Linebacker Eddie Robinson, for example, said, “I’ve seen him at every level and heard him talk in front of a lot of guys.  I’ve never heard him say ‘Go out there and hurt somebody,’ and I don’t want him to get that kind of rap.”

But Robinson admitted that cash changed hands.  “In football, what people don’t realize, players use money as an incentive,” Robinson said.  “Me, personally, I don’t see anything wrong with guys in the meeting room saying, ‘Anybody gets the most sacks in this game gets $100.'”

The Bills deny knowledge of any type of bounty program, and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Graham that “[n]o evidence of violations at other teams” was discovered during the investigation regarding the Saints.

And that means one of two things:  (1) the investigators somehow didn’t ask Williams once he admitted to running a bounty program in New Orleans where he did so elsewhere; or (2) the investigators asked, and Williams denied it.

If it’s the first one, the investigators should be fired.  If it’s the second, Williams should be.

Either way, the oil slick that started just north of the Gulf of Mexico will spread to Washington and to Buffalo.  With hundreds of former players now suing the league for the consequences of a career’s worth of concussions, don’t be surprised if more allegations of bounty programs emerges, with the league eventually having to turn over stones in most if not all NFL cities.

72 responses to “Report: Bills had bounty system under Gregg Williams

  1. There’s nothing wrong with physical play that makes players not want to come back on the field, or not look forward to playing your team, but this is insane. As a Bills fan, I hope this didn’t happen, but I’m thinking it probably did. Looking back at the Sants-Colts Super Bowl, the announcers were showering him with praise for his schemes. His “schemes” don’t look so good now, do they?

  2. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude! I started out joking about this, but now I really think this guy is in serious trouble. I haven’t heard a word of comment from Gregg Williams, has he spoken publicly about this yet? Or is he assembling a team of lawyers?

  3. Wow, will this have an impact on the number of lawsuits player are filing for injury affects against the NFL. The NFL is unstoppable but these kinds of things albeit not new will change how the NFL will do business going forward. Ps…did you have to mention my favorite team.

  4. There’s a world of difference between having an incentive pool for making big plays – like sacks, forced fumbles, tackles for loss, INT’s etc… and being told you will be rewarded for intentionally injuring another player. To pretend otherwise, is to have one’s head in the sand… or up some other dark place. That’s what needs to get sorted out in this story.

  5. Gregg ” the quarterback bounty hunter” williams. Is a disgrace to the game, its a blackeye to the integrity of the game. And if he’s not disiplined to the max the league will look like a joke.

  6. Next stop Tennessee… Wonder what kind of implications this hold for Fisher when they find out he knew about it too.Good thing for him that all this did’nt come out until after he signed his contract….

  7. Banned for what? Having his guys play football? Isn’t the whole objective to sideline the other teams players? Are players really gonna play harder for a little more chump change? If so, the player shouldn’t be playing in the first place.

  8. Gee, and I thought Eddie Albert’s warden character from “The Longest Yard” was the most sadistic when it came to inflicting pain upon his team’s opponents.

  9. The “bounty” system helped Buffalo alot. No way they ever could have consistently won 5if games a year without one in place.

  10. If he gets banned, then every player who took one dollar from these programs should be kicked out of through NFLPA. Its hypocritical for these players to take the money from these programs and then turn around and complain and sue. There is no loyalty from these players.They should be suspended by the league as well.

  11. What an idiot. Saying “$100 to whoever gets the most sacks” is completely different to saying “$100 to whoever knocks someone out the game”.

  12. Wire says he doesn’t feel that players exchanging money for good performances is fine, but the problem is that this type of thing leads to guys doing things to get the big hit instead of making a clean tackle and those big hits lead to guys getting injured. These allegations are regarding ‘pay for intentionally hurting another player’. Even in the sexy world of pro sports, there’s no place for it…

    As to Williams doing this elsewhere, it’s likely so. Whether it can be proven or not is another story. I heard Darren Sharper claiming innocence the other day thru the media. Why does he care, he’s retired and the NFL can’t sanction or fine him now anyway…

  13. Even in preseason? Lions coaches took a ton of heat for still having Stewart in the game it being preseason and all. So who wants to expose their guys to playing the Rams preseason this year?

  14. Repeat after me, Mr. Williams:

    “Would you like to try one of our new mocca chino lattes today?”

    Time to get ready for your new career.

  15. Gregg Williams should be banned from the NFL, give up his tainted Super Bowl ring AND be forced to remove one of the “g’s” from his first name.

  16. Noway he gets banned, With all current/former players saying this “BOUNTY”Has been going on for years.NFL pays guys MILLIONS to HIT QB’S..An made millions selling video of guys getting knocked out,ESPN had a spot in their coverage call “JACKED UP”…just saying…Flag Football Here we come……….

  17. This “scandal” isn’t about hitting guys, it’s not about a competitive advantage. It’s about INJURY.

    From what’s been presented and discussed, even locally on the talk radio – bounties weren’t paid for great football plays, not for doing their job but for INJURY which is what makes this bad. There’s a distinction there between a good lick and a concussion or a guy strapped to a back board.

    A distinction that’s obviously been missed by more than a few posters.

  18. Foolio, as a lawyer, you should know the difference between allegations of a crime and evidence and conviction of one. There appears to be plenty of evidence he broke the rules in New Orleans. What you have here are allegations, but of what I am not even sure.

    Incentives for reaching certain milestones is not a prohibited activity. Players can be recognized, comped, incented for sacks, ints, TDs, etc. What they can’t do is be incented to target players for injury.

    Players exchanging money for making splash plays is one thing. Exchanging money for injuring a player is a completely different thing. And last time I checked, congratulating a guy for blowing up a dude n the field wasn’t against the rules either.

  19. “I shattered [running back] James Stewart’s shoulder, and he never played again,” Wire said. “I was showered with praise for that. It’s a shame that’s how it was. Now I see how wrong that was.”
    If all this is true about bounties, then Coy Wire had to get paid, right?

    “Showered with praise”….is that like ‘makin’ it rain’?

  20. This actually could help the league in their concussion defense because they can argue that they aren’t responsible for damages caused by the intentional tort of their employee.

  21. As someone who played amateur football for 12 years (pop Warner and high school), this disgusts me. I was always taught to be a physically dominating player, make your opponent suffer a mental breakdown to where he walks off the field by his own choice. That’s what inspired
    me to play as hard as possible. I wanted the other guy to “rage quit”. However, I never wanted to injure anyone. Just like me, that kid had a family to go home to or people who loved and cared for him. I could never take pride in injuring someone. What I took pride in was getting him benched because I was beating him so bad.

  22. The last few years in the nfl have exposed some serious stuff and i think roger goodell has done a very nice job. now we have investigations that have taken place under his watch that have and will straighten out the nfl. Thats a good thing. With spy gate and super Xl investigations were done and people were either finned or put on notice. now this thats much much worse is good to see the comish doing the right thing. We are gona see some a heavy hammer come down and you can say cya to greg w.

  23. I really don’t see what all the fuss is about…..ask ray Lewis, James Harrison, orange other defensive player what he is trying to do every play. Take the QB out of the game.

  24. I wonder how long before this crude washes up to Jeff Fishers dock. Although it seems the league office isnt interested in pursuing any of this unless it comes to light otherwise.

  25. rtk23 says:
    Mar 4, 2012 7:50 AM
    Banned for what? Having his guys play football? Isn’t the whole objective to sideline the other teams players? Are players really gonna play harder for a little more chump change? If so, the player shouldn’t be playing in the first place.
    RTK23 – You are an idiot. The objective isn’t to end guys careers by any means possible which is what Williams was promoting. People like you are what is wrong with both society. You also don’t get the spirit of this great game. Yes, you want to hit the other player hard. However, the hits need to be clean and within the confines of the rules. Not after a play is over, or illegally during the action. Williams led defenses that were always some of the leaders for unsportsmanlike penalties. Your posts make you almost look as dumb as him.

  26. Banning Williams is extreme. Williams has said publically that his game plan would be to send “remember me” hits to quarterbacks and and receivers. If they get injured they get injured. His intent has always been to establish fear and pain. So the idea that he participated in a bounty program basically encouraging the same thing as a game plan shouldn’t get him banned for life. Williams’ aggressive game plans have been cheered by the press and glorified by the NFL. A bounty program is silly anyway. Many players have incentives for sacks and ints in their contracts. Many may have made a salary on a Williams coached team (or any team) over another player because of their willingness to hit with intent to give pain. He should be reprimanded but not any more than a coach who gets a DUI.

  27. There is no way this doesn’t end with either him resigning, or being fired. Honestly I don’t know how this guy isn’t suspended from the league within the next few days.

  28. rtk23 says: Mar 4, 2012 7:50 AM

    Banned for what? Having his guys play football? Isn’t the whole objective to sideline the other teams players? Are players really gonna play harder for a little more chump change? If so, the player shouldn’t be playing in the first place.

    Uh NO, the “whole objective” is to keep the other team from scoring while your offense does. Keeping them from scoring does NOT include injury their players, it includes knowing how to do your damn job as an 11 man unit and keep them out of the endzone. If you honestly think inury people is part of the objective as the game is designed your truly do not understand the game, or it’s rules, and should discontinue watching something you obviously do not understand. Maybe knitting and receiving slow checks is more your speed

  29. Here we go again, another NFL adversity that the proprietor of this website has become abscessed with. Expect the usual from this proprietor playing lawyer, judge and jury with his demands on the outcome of “Bountygate”. Never content to just report the story, instead always wants to be the story.

  30. The Saints one a Super Bowl as a direct result of their bounty hunting activities. (See Brett Favre’s busted up ribs and ankle.)

    Viking fans, how many draft picks do you think a Lombardi Trophy is worth?

    The penalty to the Saints should be no less.

  31. After reading all this about Gregg Williams, I am now convinced how overblown Spygate was, and how much Bill Belichicvk looks like a veritable saint (not the team), compared to this friggin slimeball.

    Any before ANYBODY tries to make a futile (and ridiculous) argument that Spygate was just as bad or worse, let’s think realistically:
    * Spygate was the filming of defensive signals from unauthorized locations;
    * Bountygate involves trying to purposely and maliciously injure players, up to trying to end their careers, and receiving financial compensation for doing so.
    BIG difference. I would go so far as to say that Gregg Williams — if some of the injuries suffered during this time span can be substantiated — will have to face a judge eventually and explain himself. It’s very much like hiring multiple hitmen, whe you really think about it. Vile and disgusting.

  32. Should we place an asterisk next to the Bills and Redskins records just like we did to the Saints records?

  33. Here we go again, unknow(sources) players speaking out yrs after the alledged infraction of “bounty hunting”. Dont agree with bounty hunting for injuries, and Gregg should be banned from the NFL. Theres simply no room for an idiot like Gregg,,,IF these charges are found to be true. Why are “unknown” players coming forward now? And why didnt they come forward when the incidents occured? How can we give credit to “unknown” sources? Come forward and be recognized.

  34. I new this was going to happen so on and so on…

    Ok so we have Buddy Ryan who was the originator of the bounty Program, than his two defensive disciples:

    Greg WIlliams and Jeff Fisher.

    so all the EVIL BOUNTY teams that need investigating are:

    Saints, Redskins, Buffalo, Tennesse, Jacksonville, Houston, Jets, Cardinals, Philadelphia, 49ers, Chicago and Minnesota.

    Goodell better hurry up, thats alot of investigating…………………………..

  35. If he also did this in Tennessee (most likely) and Jacksonville: they got to ban him from the league for good.

  36. I think everyone is jumping the gun about this a little bit. There has been no proof out there that Williams paid someone to “injure another player”. Williams defenses have never been regarded as “dirty” over the years, and I think if players were being paid to hurt other players then the Saints defense wouldnt have been referred to as “soft”. Is Williams a passionate coach, who lives and breathes defense? Yes definitely. Is he offering incentives for monster shots that remove a guy from a game? Yes definitely. Is he paying guys to go out there and snap legs at the bottom of the pile. I highly doubt it. Regardless of any “bounty”, a player must stay within the confines of the NFL rules or that player himself would face the consequences. This whole thing is the latest NFL ploy to show they are trying to protect players, as long as it doesnt cost them too much money.

  37. Why stop at buffalo don’t forget he was the DC for Tenn. on their SB losing team. Or will the media continue to protect Jeff Fischer as gods gift to football?

  38. So much for that clean slate the Rams were looking for. Instead of a breath of fresh air and being excited about who they can fleece for the #2 pick, they have to deal with this mess.

    Maybe Miami’s luck is changing. Usually, they play the role of Schleprock in these scenarios and after landing Fisher, they would have been stuck with this Williams situation. First sign that not getting Fisher was a blessing in disguise.

  39. I Love the bounty system. Whatever it takes to motivate these guys is fine with me. Just base it on tackles or hits and not on cheap shots or take outs. Derod Cherry said yesterday on WKNR Cleveland that some players valued that “bounty money” more then their game day paychecks and he was being totally honest. I have no problem with bounty $ as long as is doesn’t involve injury. I have pushed for years where the NFL says the winning team gets paid more then the losing team. . . and you make it league wide and the pot keeps growing. THEN you would see some football. Guys “taking plays off” would be screamed at by teammates on the sidelines.

  40. This is getting old quickly.

    He had a bounty program. People are up in arms about how people are trying to injure people on purpose. Are you all really that naive? Look at every video game, biggest hits video, or any other successful football related item. The people that level the biggest hits are the most famous.

    For those people that say that this causes career ending injuries, look at how many injuries come from no contact in games or in training camp.

    These players were taking chump change compared to the incentives in their contracts. Take Ahmad Brooks contract, there is a de-escalator clause for not getting a certain level of sacks.

    Be realistic, every player and coach on every team tell the defenders to hit that other QB so hard that their families hit it.

    The reason they make so much money is because it is hazard pay. This is why they want as much as they can get. Why do you think that the average career is so short?

    The lying or covering up of this issue is the real problem. Anyone that is caught lying in this should be dealt with, harshly.

  41. It was stupid to run a bounty pool but everyone needs to just settle down and take a deep breath.

    Is there any actual evidence that the bounties gave a competitive adavantage ?

    Is there any proof or stats that any team that Williams coached injured more opposing players than any other team in the league?

    In my opinion he was paying for things that would have happenned anyway during the course of a physical game.

    Fine some money but don’t act like he some villian .

  42. I’m so glad to see Gregg Williams finally get what he deserves!!! (and I hope it is a LIFETIME ban)–we had to endure this moron for 3 years in Buffalo (2001-2003)–he didn’t have a clue what he was doing as head coach and thought he was some kind of offensive and defensive “genius”–ultimately he was fired for a diasterous record of 17-31. Now I want to know if that idiot general manager in Buffalo at the time (Tom O’Donahoe)-who hired Williams in the first place knew anything about this “bounty” system going on under his nose (I bet he did!!!)-if so he needs to be banned for life too (which doesn’t matter now because he is such an incompetent boob that nobody has hired him to do anything since 2005)

  43. Wow, this is bad. I do think its getting blown out of porportion a bit though. I don’t see Greg Williams doing the whole “Sweep the leg” Sensai bit from the karate kid and go out and kill opponents.

  44. I have no sympathy for that franchise now. They can move to Toronto for all I care.

  45. Buddy Ryan put a bounty on a kicker and if you think about it that kind of bounty makes the most sense. If I were to develop a bounty system it would be to go after the long snapper, kicker or punter. If any of these positions go down the opposing team has to scramble personnel and adjust a game plan. Plus there is no glory hitting a punter or kicker. A player looks like a punk blowing up a kicker or punter, so an incentive is necessary to go take out one of those specialty positions. Any other bounty system is redundant and unnecessary, and therefore silly. Anybody with a ball in an effort to advance that ball has put a bounty on himself.

  46. Gregg Williams shame on you for not giving a $$hit about these players health and well being, I would love to see LB take you out! Darren Sharper you are Making yourself look like a Big Fat LIAR….The IRS is coming for you.

  47. Though Wire claims he never received any payment (which may be related to potential IRS complications), Wire acknowledged that he was praised for delivering a career-ending injury during a preseason game. “I shattered [running back] James Stewart’s shoulder, and he never played again,” Wire said. “I was showered with praise for that. It’s a shame that’s how it was. Now I see how wrong that was.”

    Now that is truly sick, if true. But how did Wire know it was a career-ending injury at the time? Williams would have to be clairvoyant to “shower Wire with praise” for a career-ending shoulder injury before Stewart’s career actually ended.

  48. “And that means one of two things: (1) the investigators somehow didn’t ask Williams once he admitted to running a bounty program in New Orleans…”

    And where has Williams admitted that? He’s admitted to being a part of pay-for-perfomance bonuses. He has yet to admit that performance included injuring other players.

  49. The NFL doesn’t care about bounties, they only care about protecting “The Shield”.

    If they really cared about “bounties” they would ask a very simple question to EVERY Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Coach in the league.

    “Have you ever, in your time as a coach in the league know about, supported, condoned or otherwise have knowledge of ANY cash payments or bonus pools paid to individual players as a result of ANY specific plays on the field, either legal or illegal?”

    What do you hear from the NFL?………crickets!

    The NFL doesn’t want to know, because they can’t handle the truth!

    This is all about protecting the shield now.

  50. You know what is one thing that is sad about this whole thing is you have to give incentives to guys making 100’s of thousands or maybe millions need to be motivated by a few thousand to hurt someone. Translate this to everyone’s work. At a conference you see a guy from your competition. Hey Joe, I’ll give you $50 to push him down the stairs. sure who wouldn’t take the $50, my commission check for 20K isn’t coming for weeks.

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