Former Hog thinks Gibbs knew about bounties

Getty Images

The many challenges that the NFL confronts in taking a stand regarding the Saints’ three-year habit of paying players to inflict injury on opponents — a practice that continued for two seasons after the Saints knew the league office was investigating the situation — include determining an appropriate point at which any evidence of bounties used by other teams will be neither investigated nor punished.  If Commissioner Roger Goodell hammers only the Saints, it may not be enough to point to the fact that the Saints brazenly and flagrantly and repeatedly broke the rules.  The league also may have to reach back and punish other teams that used bounties, if sufficient evidence can be found.

The franchise that would appear to be “on deck” for that next level of investigation and enforcement is the Redskins.  Multiple players already have said that former Saints, Jaguars, Redskins, and Titans (and quite possibly soon-to-be- former Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams used a similar bounty system in D.C.  Former Redskins assistant coach Greg Blache has also pointed a finger at Williams, while protecting former head coach Joe Gibbs, who has said he knew nothing about it.

And now the fingers are being pointed at Gibbs.

“That’s just too stupid,” former Redskins offensive lineman George Starke recently said, via the Washington Post. “Of course he knew.”

Starke explained the procedures that applied when he played with the team in the 1980s.  “[I]n the meeting after the game, Joe Gibbs would come in, he’d have a fistful of $100 bills,” Starke said.  “And if Dexter knocked the quarterback down three times, he would get three hundred-dollar bills.  And Joe would pass the money out in the meeting, and we would have to duck.”

In response, Gibbs admitted to Jason Reid of the Post that Gibbs once used a program of this nature.  “In my first stint coaching the Redskins, we did have an incentive program in place to recognize the guys for outstanding plays made within the rules of the game,” Gibbs said.  “Back then there was no salary cap and the incentive program we used was within the league rules.  We had all kinds of incentives, including dinners at local restaurants, radios, the chance to sit in a lazy-boy recliner during team meetings and cash rewards.  To be clear — we only used rewards as a motivational tool and to recognize the guys who made positive plays in the game each week.”

Though some continue to be unable to understand that highly-paid players somehow find extra motivation in getting a little extra money, they do.  And it apparently has been part of the game for decades.

The problem is that Williams took it too far, at least in New Orleans or possibly elsewhere, tying payments to taking players out of a game.

The reality is that players already understand the benefit to the team of knocking key players out of a game.  Williams and the Saints hurt themselves, and the rest of the league, by converting what was an open secret into something that feels far more malicious and nefarious.

Starke explained the mindset perfectly.  “Knock him out?” he said.  “Of course.  You’ve got to knock them out.  We’re paid to knock them out.  Really, when I hear people talk about hurting someone, I’m thinking trying to hurt his knee or something like that.  You’ve got to remember, it’s not until very recently that this whole brain stuff has come up, so really, I’m not sure today if the players today look at that the same.  That’s a good question.  But you have to understand, knocking someone out, it’s like being a boxer.  You’re job is to knock the guy out.”

That’s where the culture change that the NFL currently is trying to implement comes into play.  The league wants players and coaches to remove that type of thinking from the game.  Though it may not be possible to do, ensuring that no team tries to provide players extra motivation to knock guys out of games is the obvious place to start.

Whatever Goodell does in response to the Saints’ bounty system, it’s safe to assume that the punishment will ensure no other team will risk being the next team to be caught doing it.

31 responses to “Former Hog thinks Gibbs knew about bounties

  1. It will be interesting to see what Goodell does.

    I have to ask the question.. Is the NFL entertainment? Or a Sport?

    If the commish and his advisers approach the NFL as entertainment, then the bounty punishment will be less than were they approach it as a sport.

    If it’s entertainment, you want the hard hits, you want the very real possibility of player injury. You want to see the stars play, no matter what. As a result, you want to appear as though you’re tough, but you’re really not.

    If it’s a sport, you want to see the integrity of the sport upheld.

    Personally, I think Goodell is protecting the “entertainment” part of it first. It seems like every suspension comes with.. “If he behaves, the fine/suspension will be reduced.” and invariably is.

  2. The key piece of this article, and the real difference is that players getting small bonuses for good play is against the rules, but a generally harmless thing. Givin players $10,000.00 to injure an opponent is barbaric, and has no place in any sport where sportsmanship is valued.

    The real tragedy of what the Saints did with their illegal bounty program, is that they cost the Vikings a Super Bowl victory, cheated all football fans from a valid outcome to the 2009 season, and permanently damaged the careers of several great players.

    How many draft picks is a Lombardi Trophy worth?

    The answer to that question should be the floor of their punishment.

  3. If Gibbs had participated in that type of behavior, it would have surfaced by now. I simply don’t beleive it. Maybe there were incentives, but probably for things like int.’s , or sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, etc. I don’t believeGibbs ever told players to hurt other players.

  4. Football is both sport and entertainment. If people didn’t find it entertaining to play or watch it would cease to be a sport.

    The attraction of the NFL is watching highly skilled athletes make sensational and almost impossible plays while executing (or not) the competing strategies of their coaches within the context of the rules. Gibbs claims he was within the rules when offering incentives. The Saints clearly were not.

    If people want to see guys get injured and knocked out, boxing and MMA are available for their entertainment pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with good hard hits in the NFL within the context of the rules. But violence and injuries are byproducts of football, not its focus. I’m happy Goodell is emphasizing this.

  5. I just find it interesting that the league knew about this for several years and all of a sudden when a group of retired players sue it comes to light.

  6. Starke does explain it properly. There is a huge difference between giving a player the use of a barcolounger for a good clean shot and handing someone $10,000 for putting a player out of the game (no matter how it is done).

    He also makes a valid point about brain injuries. For years defensive players were taught to flex their neck and stick their head into the opponent. If the opponent lowered their head you had helmet to helmet contact (with a running back). A defensive player with their neck flexed can practically run into a wall without doing harm and when you get that confidence that you will not hurt yourself you become a better football player.

  7. Now even Joe Gibbs is being implicated. The only clear solution to this mess is to suspend the 31 obviously guilty teams for the entire upcoming season and award the Lombardi trophy to the Patriots by default.

  8. Goodell paid this loser to come out so he has a excuse to gobretarded on the penalties … No one cares about this no name Gibbs probably cut n got mad ..

  9. It seems to me Mr Godell is never really Clear on his position. Sometimes the way he works is as if he never played the game before. For instance in this case, All he needs to do is look at the film , that will tell him if their is unfair shots taken with illegal hits. Of cousre every coach teaches to hit as hard as you can, make a play, hustle, knock the snot out of the next player. Just sounds rediculous, this in turn with cause the coaches to be unsure with how they teach and coach, and the game will get wierd. We are tought to go hard as we can , to let up means to get hurt. Now what? Will the NFL start going 75% speed next. He Keeps Fu**ing with the dam game.

  10. @znorseman:

    “The real tragedy of what the Saints did with their illegal bounty program, is that they cost the Vikings a Super Bowl victory, cheated all football fans from a valid outcome to the 2009 season, and permanently damaged the careers of several great players.”


    “The real tragedy of what the Saints did with their illegal bounty program, is that they cost the Vikings a CHANCE AT A Super Bowl victory, cheated all football fans from a valid outcome to the 2009 season, and permanently damaged the careers of several great players.”

    fixed it for you…

  11. If Gibbs had participated in that type of behavior, it would have surfaced by now. I simply don’t beleive it. Maybe there were incentives, but probably for things like int.’s , or sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, etc. I don’t believeGibbs ever told players to hurt other players.


    Interesting how fans view things differenlty when its their team implicated. Stop throwing stones when you live in a glass house fools.

  12. Of course, throw another witch on the fire to make the football liability issue go away. They need scapegoats, and they won’t be disappointed because this has gone on since the game began.

  13. Give PFT credit for dropping use of the term “Bountygate,” which is now the most automatic and predictable appellation for any scandal both in or out of sports.

    It’s as if people who write things have no brains. They constantly go with the all-too-obvious at the expense of originality and creativity. Surprise, surprise, for example, that ESPN continues to call it Bountygate.

  14. Key phrase: “it FEELS far more malicious and nefarious.”

    Yes, it definitely “feels” worse. But the reality is, it’s no different.

  15. Gibbs absolutely knew.

    And this is what bigtime named coaches and players have to worry about when they do the WRONG thing… A no name player, with money to make and an axe to grind, shows up out of nowhere and exposes your integrity or lack thereof.

    Happens in blue collar. Happens in white collar.
    Happens in college sports. Happens in professional sports.

  16. I used to love watching the Hogs play but I don’t remember this mofo at all.
    As long time Skins fans know, George Starke from Columbia was a right tackle drafted by George Allen and was called “Head Hog” because he was the senior guy on the OL when Joe Bugel named the Hogs in 1982. He was a great guy, but the least athletic of that group, well known for his holding calls, and retired only a year or two after winning that first Super Bowl. The fact is, he has no idea what happened when Gregg Williams was there during Gibbs” second stint with the team.

  17. …and permanently damaged the careers of several great players.”
    Even granting you the injury to Favre’s ankle in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, which was not even penalized, I am still waiting for someone to identify ILLEGAL hits committed by the Saints other than this hysterical fixation on one game involving one player that “…permanently damaged the careers of several great players.” This supposedly happened over three years. Where is the mountain of evidence of penalties, fines and suspensions? And don’t give me the Kurt Warner hit the week before which was clearly clean and legal – as even Warner has said.

  18. there is no way the Gibbs didnt know about this during his second stint..
    coaches are control freaks by nature…how could he possibly be head coach and not know this was happening.. not buying it at all

  19. Saints fans…

    Everyone, not just Viking fans, have commented at the brutality of the 2009 NFC Championship. At one point in the game, Favre got his clock cleaned 3 seconds AFTER handing the ball off on a running play. Never in my life have I seen that happen to a QB, and the Saints intent was all too clear after that play. If you needed it any more clear, the player who made that hit went to the sidelines after that play, and Sean Peyton clearly said to him “Do it again.” Then you follow that up with that flagrant (uncalled) high-low shot that broke Favre’s ankle, where the Saints player squealed “Pay Me My Money!!!” after it was clear Favre was seriously hurt, and I don’t don’t know how you guys can sit there and say “what illegal hits?!?” as though you don’t know EXACTLY what I and the rest of the football watching world are upset about.

  20. First, to those calling George Starke a mofo and know name player clearly know nothing about the NFL. Starke was called the Head Hog because he was the leader of that group. He also played in SB’s for George Allen and Joe Gibbs, and is a SB champion. He is one of the greatest O-lineman in Skins history and a case can be made for him being inducted to the HOF. When Starke talks everyone would be wise to listen. He knows what he is talking about.

    Second, this is more proof this whole bounty crap is BS. The same people whining and composing about bounties would not hesitate to cheer and yell if a player on their team laid out an opponent with a huge hit.

    If bounties upset you stop watching the NFL. If not watching is impossible keep your hypocrisy to yourself.

  21. zn0rseman:

    You are delusional.

    Did you see the hits that Brees took in that game? He took just as many high/low shots and was hit just as late. Younger body, not so brittle bones.

    The fact that he got rid of the ball sooner, is far younger and had a better offensive line may have had something to do with his not getting hurt.

    Favre was a beast in that game, he stood in there, play after play, trying to extend plays and “will” his team to victory. A lesser QB would have folded and thrown the ball away, but Favre tried his best to win the game. He was hit hard in that game. Brees was hit hard in that game. Favre just happened to throw that Interception, “This is not Detroit Man, this is the Super Bowl!”

    Saints paid people to make LEGAL Hits on players to “take them out” of the game. You heard that right, LEGAL hits.

    The whole NFC Championship Game and the Saints hitting Favre was blown so far out of proportion, mostly by this website.

  22. “…it’s like being a boxer”
    No, it isn’t. A boxer’s job is to knock someone out, yours is to tackle as part of a larger game. There is NO comparison. Injuries are the inevitable result of playing football, they are NOT the goal of playing football.
    I’m not naive, intentionally hurting someone is as old as the game, but it’s NOT equivalent to boxing, not in any bleeping way. That’s a ridiculous cop out.
    If you want to get paid for hurting someone, boxing or MMA is your thing, or maybe a cop or a bouncer. Go for it. It’s NOT the goal of football, it’s NOT what you’re supposed to be paid for.

  23. To all the ‘mofo’s’ who are attempting to dis George Starke for responding honestly to the Gibbs question-stating they are fans and never heard of him, or he was disgruntled. You are NOT Skin fans or you would know who he is and give him some respect-the following link to educate

    And from this fan of 4 decades-of course Gibbs had to know. It doesn’t change my opinion of him.
    Bounties, right or wrong, were a culture of this game for as long as I have watched the game-and that goes back to the mid 50’s.
    Given all the new info, should it change, yes, but let’s not vilify the past mindset of the game, and all those involved.

  24. So let me get this straight you Viking whiners…because Gregg Williams waved a couple of dollar bills around in the air your that meant that your team couldn’t hold on to those 5 turnovers and not throw an interception when the game was on the line thus CHEATING you out of a Superbowl???


  25. musicman495:

    Thanks for the info. I loved watching the Hogs play back in the day, he was a bit before my time, obviously.

    I’ve liked the Skins for decades now, it’s a shame what’s happened to the franchise lately though. DC deserves a champion, hopefully things will change again soon.


    There’s no need to lose your schit, buddy. I wasn’t using the word “mofo” in a derogatory way.

    Have a nice day.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!