Looking at why bounties work

So when an NFL player is earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, why does the promise of another $1,000 or so provide any extra motivation?

It’s a question that was addressed during Monday’s PFT Live.

The easy answer is that it’s human nature to constantly seek validation, and that the issue isn’t about money but it’s about something more immediate than making it to the Pro Bowl or getting a postseason award.

But don’t take our word for it.  Even though former Saints safety Darren Sharper has been saying too much about the situation, he hit the nail on the head on WWL on Monday by comparing the payments to helmet stickers in high school or college:  “Those are just ways to give guys rewards to have them to be notified throughout their peers on the team that, hey, this guy is making big plays and is allowing us to go out here and win games,” Sharper said.  “They’re a contributor to our team.”

Before this is over, the NFL and the Saints will wish that they had gone with helmet stickers instead.

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25 responses to “Looking at why bounties work

  1. favre is the toughest ever

    he started all those games in a row with having money on his head,


  2. Not surprising at all that things like bounties work. You have a team of 53 men that (should be at least) are highly competitive, being the guy to claim the prize is going to be a driving force or feel good even if they can wipe their rear end with the cash. There have been plenty of things I have competed hard for not because the reward is great but because winning is sweet.

  3. So it’s not about the money, but what the money represents? I don’t know, I would rather be known for going hard and being relentlessly difficult than by one or two border-line legal hits whose intent is to injure.

  4. mjbulls45 says: Mar 5, 2012 10:37 PM

    favre is the toughest ever

    he started all those games in a row with having money on his head,


    That’s why all the pasty-faced white guys in the media called him “The Gunslinger!”

  5. If bounties worked so much, would you say the Saints were among the most hard hitting and physically damaging defenses in the NFL the last 3 years? If you would say that, you are insane. Teams like the Ravens and Steelers knock players out left and right. The Saints exited the playoffs both of the last two seasons because of injuries in the game, against Seattle they lost all their running backs until some camp body and the fullback were the only ones left. Against the 49ers Pierre Thomas got KO’d and lost the ball while unconscious from a helmet to helmet hit. If anything maybe the bounties half way made up for the Saints defenders being much less naturally aggressive than other teams. That is, if you really believe teams like the Ravens don’t use the bounties like they are rumored to.

  6. “polegojim says: Mar 5, 2012 11:03 PM
    Pansies fear bounties.

    Man up and perform in the face of them.”

    Intent to injure has absolutely nothing to do with “manning up”. Let me guess. You also drink lite beer and think you “man up”.

  7. I think there is a cancer in the game, its low on the radar and it needs to be taking care of. It is not just in the bounty issues, its also in the part time flag throwers to name a few, the idea of adding more and more teams is making the teams less competed then years ago with fewer teams, more and more less skill players is why the games are not as good as before, makes you wonder how a player can make it to the NFL and have such a low knowledge of how to play the game. The drama boys who can’t get enough of the camera, they love the spot light, some act like they never been in the end zone before .Bill

  8. hutch119 says: A helmet sticker for a big play is not the same as cash for injuries. Sorry.
    Yea dude, it really is. Its props in the locker room. The guy with the most stickers on his helmet on the football team is The Man.

    What’s $300? Thats a tank of gas and a night out with the woman. It isn’t about the money. Its about the teacher giving you an A plus in front of the whole class.

  9. Trust me, when you’re in the top 10 on the USA Today High School football rankings…That sticker on your helmet is worth way more than a couple hundred bucks.

    That’s how college scounts know who to look for. The exact same mentality graduates to the NFL level.

    Goodell can never stop it from happening.

    FYI: Football is a contact sport…You don’t like it, the world needs grave diggers.

  10. There was talk of bounty’s from anonymous gamblers in the Canadian Football League back to when Warren Moon dominated the Grey Cup. The NFL said “Oh no, we don’t have that problem, our salary’s are too high for players to risk it.” Ha ha ha ha!

  11. That’s why they have game balls. THey do not need bounties and they don’t ‘work’. Helmet stickers work, they are legal. illegal activities don’t work, they draw penalities and fines to the team and players trying to put someone out of a game.

  12. This brings out all the speculation in every sector:

    Legal mumbo jumbo and everybody wants to file a laws suit.

    Judge and jury: The lynch mob is ready to roll.

    Armchair psychobabble: Now we get to examine the psychology behind slobberknockers for cash adminiistered by mercenaries.

    Either it changes the NFL in a big way or by draft day we dont even care anymore. I dont care right now.

  13. I suspect the bounties are not very effective as motivation for the very good and well paid players. But the marginal players may well see it as a way to stand out and possibly stick with the team, win a starting spot or just get some otherwise not easily attainable respect as a tough football player from their more gifted teammates.

  14. All the “man up, it’s a tough game” talk misses the point. What people have to realize is that pro football is a business and the only thing that matters is making money. So while football is a sport and a competition, the only important aspect is that it is ENTERTAINMENT. (Curling, for instance, is every bit as competitive as football, but it also happens to be boring, hence no entertainment value, hence no National Curling League.)

    So the suits want to protect the entrtainment value of football above all else. If harder and harder hits and more cart-offs served that purpose, I can guarantee the league would turn a blind eye. But clearly they’ve determined that the risk of having star players knocked out (fewer people will tune in to games when a backup QB is starting and the team is out of contention because of it) is the more important factor. Whatever will sell more tickets, more ads, more merchandise, is what the league will do.

  15. Star players are always going to be targets. You will never ever be able to change that. At the same time, $1000 is a rich man’s version of a high five. Take away the money, and teams are still going to try to take out your QB, if that’s what it takes to win.

  16. Football is a team sport, bounties are way of separating oneself from your teammates. “Hey, I got more bounty money than anybody else.”

    This is one point that hasn’t been a part of the articles.

    sergisbauer made a good point… Football is entertainment. The NFL has to walk a fine line.. hard hits add to the entertainment value, but loosing star players from injury detracts from that same entertainment value.

    By this same reasoning, it is very rare you see players suspended for illegal hits. As much as people want to fine Harrison (Pittsburgh), they still want to see him in the game hitting people.

    I stopped watching basketball a long time ago because the star players were never called for fouls. When movie stars pay thousands of dollars for court-side seats, they don’t want to see their stars foul out in the 2nd quarter.

    Football is going the same way.. They want to see all the hits, but they don’t want people knocked out of the game.

  17. Anyone think L.T. was paid to take out Theismann? If so that was the most successful (and acceptable) bounty in the NFL ever. Period.

  18. Spygate involved knowingly exactly what plays the opponent will run … Nothing screws wit the game integrity more than that …. Spygate> Bountygate ..

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