Packers quickly addressed “bounty” violations in 2007


The New Orleans Times-Picayune is one of several media outlets pointing out recently that the Saints aren’t the first team to get caught violating the NFL’s bounty rule: The 2007 Packers violated the rule, too.

That violation largely flew under the radar at the time and hasn’t been mentioned often since then, although the NFL did make clear that a violation occurred. A 2007 article, headlined, “NFL will not punish Packers players for ‘bounty rule’ violation,” noted that the league didn’t issue any fines, let alone suspensions.

The Packers’ violations included defensive linemen getting $500 from teammates for holding Vikings running back Adrian Peterson under 100 yards in a 34-0 victory over Minnesota. That’s obviously a lot different than Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to any teammate who could knock Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game, and more importantly, as soon as the league spoke with the Packers about it, the Packers stopped it.

“We’ve already addressed it as a football team,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the time. “It’s a dead issue, in my view. There’s been no fines. It’s been resolved with the league, and we have moved on.”

If Saints head coach Sean Payton had addressed bounties with his football team and made sure they were a dead issue as soon as he learned what was going on, he’d still be the Saints’ head coach for the upcoming season.

67 responses to “Packers quickly addressed “bounty” violations in 2007

  1. For those of you who were saying on other threads that bounties have never been part of the game,this proves otherwise.

    The Saints simply got caught,but more importantly didn’t stop when warned by the league to do so. It’s not the crime,it’s the cover up. See Watergate and Richard Nixon. The crime was 3rd rate burglary and would have been forgotten had Nixon fired the guilty parties. Instead,the cover up cost him his presidency.

  2. Que the clueless Saints fans claiming a double standard. They can’t understand the difference between coaches organazing payment to players who injur opposing players, lie about it when the league questions them about it, and then continue to do it again after being confronted by it.

  3. It’s hard for me to call what the Packers did an example of a bounty. It was more like incentive pay. They weren’t deliberately trying to hurt people.

    If a DE has an incentive clause in his contract that says he’ll extra money if he gets 15 sacks that year, is that considered a bounty now?

  4. Yeah, that’s not even close to the same thing. One is paying players incentives to play better. The other is paying players incentives to hurt people.

  5. Holding a player to under a 100yrds rushing or recieving is worlds apart from intentionally injuring another player.

    In both cases I do however feel it’s unneccessary to offer cash rewards.I find it disturbing that NFL players would need extra incentive to play hard and do well in a league that it should be a privalege to play in and are well compensated to do so.

  6. I would assume that the difference between a penalty and no penalty here is that the Saints’ bounty system is a player safety issue while the Packers’ bounty system was a salary cap issue more than anything else. I’m not a fan of either team, nor am I an apologist for Goodell, but I think there’s a clear difference and it doesn’t result in hypocrisy from the league’s standpoint. I don’t think the Saints’ penalties come from the bounty system but from lying about it when the NFL investigated it initially.

  7. So the one year death-penalty isn’t about player safety after all, it’s about lying to Daddy!

    We have heard how terrible and dirty it is for incentive pay of any kind. We have heard how horrible it is to circumvent the CBA by pay-for-performance regardless who is doing the paying.

    You know, Tennessee and Baltimore had bounty systems in place as well, right?

    Sure, the Saints did it too, and they kept doing it, but where was the shock when these other clubs did it? Not so much as a fine? Nothing. And now the Saints the the worst punishment ever handed down in the history of the NFL.

    This is what Saints fans have been saying, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

  8. I guess there’s more than one way to earn a “performance bonus.” Clearly different than paying someone to take someone’s head off. But if the Packers (or any other team) want to hand out “bonuses” for holding the premiere RB in the league (in your division, no less) to under 100 yards, then why don’t they just insert an incentive clause in their contract? Don’t they already do that?

  9. This case is more of a ‘performance based insentive’. Any team’s defence wants to keep the opposing RB from gaining 100 yards. The difference with a bounty is the player is targeted to become the subject of a physical injury that would put him out of the game. Big difference.

  10. Saints fan here. Non issue. We didn’t stop period. Time to move on.
    The real issue is the phony outrage by NFL people. Minnesota complained and then signed one of the offenders (Remi Ayodele) -really? The commish wants player safety but ignores open comments from NYG players about hurting Kyle Williams from SF- really?

    This is about money, power, and arrogance. In spite of the self righteous manufactured indignation, we deserve what we got as we could have stopped it.

  11. No, it wasn’t a bounty situation at all. It was performance pay. If I remember correctly, the issue at hand was a payment of something like $100 or $200 for interceptions. And the DBs talked freely about it… no one knew it was considered a violation of the cap rules. So, the league caught wind of it, notified the Packers of the violation, told them to stop it (just like the league gave the Saints a chance to fix this themselves), and they did.

    So, no bounty system, just locker room performance pools.

    P.S. to kingfish: spot-on with that Nixon analogy. Perfect example of the Saints’ situation.

  12. according to most writers and Goodell. A bounty is a bounty.

    Truth factory I am not a saints fan and I will say that is there a difference yes. Are they the same thing. Yes they are both bounties. Like it or not they are.

  13. Every team has bounties of some kind. Some will be on a similar level to Vilma’s, others on a similar level to this report on GB. The other difference will be how teams keep the whole thing in-house.

  14. This is the reason why I can’t see the difference between a Packer fan and a communist.

    I obviously can see the difference between NO and GB “bounty programs” but, it always seems like these SOBs are getting away with something.

    The sad thing is that if it was squashed once the team found out about it… You shouldn’t penalize the team for it. That socialist/communistic bastard of a team gets away with something else.

  15. Sheesh, not even remotely the same thing.

    Packers: $500 for holding a running back under 80 yards

    Saints: $10,000 for inflicting so crippling an injury on Brett Favre so as to render him incapable of re-entering the game

    And that’s not even getting into all the other factors — like the Saints systematically lying to the NFL investigators about it while continuing the practice with the assistance of a known felon who had previously swindled the NFL out of money.

  16. truthfactory says:
    Mar 23, 2012 9:04 AM
    Que the clueless Saints fans claiming a double standard. They can’t understand the difference between coaches organazing payment to players who injur opposing players, lie about it when the league questions them about it, and then continue to do it again after being confronted by it.

    I’m not one claiming any double standard. I said on another thread the penalties were well deserved. My problem is those fans from other teams claiming The title should be stripped. Sorry,but that’s way over the top. If you strip the Saints title,you have to strip the raiders titles in 76,81,and 83. George Atkinson has said in many interviews both he and Jack tatum received bonus money for knocking players out of games.

    Bounties have been part of NFL culture for 50+ years. Denying this fact is simply burying ones head in the sand. If those same people would research NFL history they’ll see just how wrong they are.

    I also heard on the radio last night,some Senator from Tenn. wants to get congress involved. Good God, Is this what we elect our political leaders to do? How about they try to fix this horrible economy instead of worrying about this trivial stuff? The rules of football fall under the same as those that govern Boxing and MMA fighting. When you step into the ring or on a field,you’re giving your expressed consent to get hit. Filing a battery charge because you got knocked out would be laughed out of court. What’s next? Arrest Nascar or Indy car drivers for felony speeding? Technically,they are,but do you think any judge worth his salt would throw them in jail for it? If he did,the state legislature would file impeachment charges within seconds.

    Solid investigative reporting has became a lost art in the media. Today it’s all about sensationalism until the next big “scoop” comes along and they try to be the first to break it.

  17. Please google Al Harris hit Adrien Peterson in knee. 2007. Or Peterson suffers torn lateral collateral ligament 2007.

    Not saying the Saints were right, but Peterson was a specific target of the Packer bounty system. The team definitely addressed the issue better than the Saints.

  18. Agree. SP should have stopped. His suspension, though, affects the city and the competitiveness of the team. His sentence is overly harsh and punishes the innocent more than it does him.

  19. This is apples and oranges. Offering bonuses for interceptions, sacks, or holding Adrian Peterson under 100 yards doesn’t hurt anyone. No one gets “carted off”. The Saints were targeting players for injury. I strongly believe the punishments are justified.

  20. Same thing with spygate . Alot more
    Teams were doing it the pats got caught who cares. Deal with it saints

  21. Rewarding players for holding a guy for good performance is a bit different than offering up cash to injure another player. What the Packers did was not a “bounty.” It’s a performance incentive… it’s written into just about every player’s contract. This is a non-issue, which is why there were no punishments handed out.

  22. And a year for Payton is overly excessive, despite how much him and Goodell are both Type A personalities.

    Belichick lies – fine / loss of 1 draft pick
    Packers have bounties – no punishment

    Saints have bounties and lie – Over 2 years in suspensions

    10 million in loss salaries /fines

    loss of 2 high draft picks

  23. That is not a bounty, that is a performance bonus. That is cap issue nothing more.

  24. The big difference was that Coach McCarthy has integrity. He’s not going to force all the blame on his Defensive Coordinator or any one else for that matter. One he got wind of this, he immediately put a stop to everything. The Packers didn’t try to hind behind a veil of cover like the Aints did. They were truthful, and followed through with putting an honest stop to it.

    Also, the Packers were trying to accomplish statistical achievements on the field… the Aints were rewarding taking out the best the opponents had to offer instead of winning against the opponents best.

  25. Green Bay did in 2007 what every team in the league did or does in some form or another, including the Saints. Get x number of picks, get $100. Hold so-and-so under 100 yards rushing, get $200. If that’s all the Saints did, there would not be this mess.

    The intent to injure in the Saints’ case changes everything. Sport becomes assault, and assault is a legal matter not an NFL matter. And legal matters lead to lawsuits. The NFL can’t have this vigilante stuff going on where players are paying each other to injure other players; where coaches institute and encourage such programs; and where the team owner is lied to and disobeyed by his own GM. That’s why you’re seeing this response by the league.

  26. I HATE the packers, but additional bounty $$$ to hold somebody under a certain amount of yards doesn’t even come close to intentionally trying to hurt another player.

    The Saints are now officially the Taints.

  27. This seems more like a perk rather then a bounty. The packers have a bounty on themselves anyway. Whenever a wr drops a pass, he owes. $100 gift card to best buy to the rest of his wr crew

  28. You know what it doesn’t even matter anymore, my favorite team already took the fall for it. Yes the Packers were told to stop and they did. The fact of matter is, it just proves that most teams at some point or another had a pay for performance system in place. And of course the Saints tried to cover it up that’s why they were slammed. I wanna ask a question to all you law abiding citizens out there; have you ever thought to yourself or said out loud that when you were playing the Saints, I wish they knock Drew Brees out of the game? If the answer is yes, you have the same scumbag mentality some of you people called the Saints out for.

  29. I hate the Packers but here’s a case of a classy coach in McCarthy and a scum-on-the-bottom-of-your-shoe type in Payton.

  30. Indeed, significant differences between the NO and GB cases. This story, though, really illustrates how the NFL’s organizational mindset has changed in five short years. Five years ago, the NFL sensed little threat to its position as the dominant entertainment vehicle in North America. Now, with all the brain trauma/cognitive impairment stories, as well as stories of general physical degeneration by its aging superstars, the NFL feels it must work to preserve its long-time viability.

  31. Several big difference between what the Packers did and what the Saints did. Handing out DVDs to players is a lot different than $10,000; trying to stop a star running back from reaching 100 yards is light years different than trying to injure a player or take them out of a game; and fessing up and stopping the practice is a lot different than denying it and covering it up for three years. As others have stated, it is the cover up that likely drew the majority of ire from Goodell.

  32. I don’t think us Saints fans are clueless, dipstick. Yes it was wrong, yes the coaches turned a blind eye and didn’t put a stop to this and lied to cover-up, we know all that- you see we can read too. Yes, they deserved to be punished – but . . . why should fans pay hard earned money to watch their team play with no head coach, half of the players gonna get some sort of suspension, so do you think the fans should be punished? If the Saints are out of contention for the season – the fans are the ones that are getting punished – so the fans are upset and showing their fustration and that is what the remarks are all about.
    Goodell should have figured out a way to punish them (team and coaches) not the fans. But then again you don’t have the smarts nor common sense to understand that.

  33. Holding an opponent to less than 100 yards is significantly different than attempting to injure an opponent.

  34. @cowboycjn… I don’t see how that is the NFL’s fault. Fans should blame the coaches as well, not the NFL. If it were my team I would feel like the coaches and players let me down. Their actions led to this. As fans you shold be irate with your own team. As human beings you should be irate that players purposefully tried to injure opposing players. There is no place for that in life, much less in any sport. It is a violent game and injuries will happen, but they shouldn’t be the end game for any team.

    They lied multiple times and kept up the bounty system for 3 years after they were initially investigated. All fault is theirs and theirs alone.

  35. Please…if you think that is the ONLY thing they had bounties on than you really are extremely naive. Ravens had bounties….many other teams had bounties. If the league wants to come down hard on the Saints to set an example, so be it. But, dont act as if what the Saints were doing was any different or more aggregious than most (if not all) NFL teams were doing.

  36. Its not even an apples to oranges comparsion. More like an apple to a electrical plug comparison.

    As in there (S)AIN’T any….

  37. Cue the ignorant Packer fans saying how different these two are…

    Riddle me this

    20 players on defense get paid $500 piece if AP is under 100 yards… thats $10,000.

    And how do you suppose they keep him under 100 yards, hugs and kisses?

    They are trying to injure just as much, so what’s the difference? SEMANTICS

  38. golonger says: Mar 23, 2012 10:49 AM

    Please…if you think that is the ONLY thing they had bounties on than you really are extremely naive. Ravens had bounties….many other teams had bounties. If the league wants to come down hard on the Saints to set an example, so be it. But, dont act as if what the Saints were doing was any different or more aggregious than most (if not all) NFL teams were doing.

    Couldnt have said it better myself golonger.

  39. nebster21 says: Mar 23, 2012 9:21 AM

    according to most writers and Goodell. A bounty is a bounty.

    Truth factory I am not a saints fan and I will say that is there a difference yes. Are they the same thing. Yes they are both bounties. Like it or not they are.
    I agree in this sense: misdemeanors and felonies are both crimes, but one is much much more serious than the other.

    I have long respected coach McCarthy. He’s an old school guy who understands the way things are in the NFL. Not surprised he put his foot down on his team’s bounties even though the type GB was doing was pretty normal and widespread IMO.

  40. $10,000 to any teammate who could knock Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship

    I’m assuming it’s too late to contribute to that fund?

  41. Every defense is out to hurt the opposing players..period. Offensive players are out to hurt their opponents as well. That is the way the game works..bounty or no bounty. That is part of the mental aspect of the game. If a receiver is thinking about getting hurt when he goes up for a pass…that is going to hinder his performance…make him think a little…or a lot. All this nonsense about no hurting players is pr hogwash by the NFL. Anyone that disagrees has never played the game and has NO CLUE!
    Bounties arent CAUSING illegal hits. Hits are either LEGAL or ILLEGAL….doesnt matter what the motivation is. And to all you tools that say bounties are cheating…LOL…

  42. This whole “bounties” thing is serving 3 purposes for the NFL

    1) the most direct,the NFL is sending a message to teams that do not follow the letter of the law

    2) The NFL is building its case against the looming concussion lawsuits by appearing to really care about the players and

    3) The NFL is touting and building its “case” for themselves showing they DO care so they can force the 18 game schedule down the players throats

    Read between the lines people!!!!!!

  43. How do you keep Adrian Petersen under 100 yards? Tackle him before he reaches 100 yards. As for the few posters who think Al Harris intentionally tired to hurt A.P. – go back and watch the hit. Harris hit A.P. in the thigh and his foot stuck to the field. It wasn’t a helmet to the knee or a knee on knee hit.

    The Saints are being punished for the cover up and lieing about it. For the poster who thinks Goodell is punishing the fans – no, Payton is punishing you for his “Get your ducks in order” comment and helping to orchestrate the cover up.

  44. How does anyone know what was offered? We hear about interceptions and fumbles, but what about hard hits, sacks, tackles on special teams?

    You really think there was no money changing hands over crushing hits?

    Come on…

  45. Seriously? Seriously? That’s it? Teammates paid $500 for holding Peterson under 100 yards–not for trying to send him to the hospital or end his career, but just for trying to hold him under 100 yards? We’re not talking about thousands of dollars coming from convicted felons outside the team, which is a way of bypassing the salary cap … just pocket change (for these guys) from teammates.

    The Times-Picayune is actually trying to compare these two situations? That’s really grasping at straws.

  46. Deb, come on…I know you are samrter than your last post.

    1) Do you really think that was the ONLY bounty….and part of the point IS hurting him,getting him out of the game so he CANNOT get ANY more yards….please tellme you arent this naive.
    2) EVERY player wants to send his opponent to the sideline….period…not end a career mind you….but put him out of the game…..that is part of football…PERIOD
    3) The AMOUNT or INTENT of the bounty isnt the issue…..just ask Goodell!

  47. @golonger …

    No, I’m not naive. I’m a student of the game and its history, have read North Dallas Forty, and saw the film again just a couple of weeks ago. As I’ve posted before, I think bounties in some form have existed for a long, long time–mostly between players. And I think during games you have moments when a coach or player says “Just get it done whatever it takes.” And I don’t know that anything will stop that from happening.

    But no, I don’t believe those situations are typically organized and funded by outside felons and involve so many team coaches/execs. Everyone involved in this situation should take their punishment, keep their mouths shut, and pray no one does a more thorough investigation because this thing doesn’t pass the smell test.

  48. Where are all the calls for IRS audits? Where are the calls for punishment because of breaking the salary cap rules?

    That is what we heard when the bounty-gate first broke.

  49. Bounties have nothing to do with the salary cap……..first of all,they arent salary or guaranteed payments……they arent sanctioned payments either. Plus,there is no specific idea of how much was even really paid out…many of the bounties went back into the hopper and were never even paid out……

  50. Interesting……but again…and this is confused by most……the issue is having a STRUCTURED bounty system…and the fact that it was continued after the league offices demanded it be curtailed. Has nothing to do with purposefully wanting to hurt another player or knock them out of the game…..that is there ANYWAY!…illegal hits (on Favre or anyone else) is NOT the result of bounties….it is the result of poor technique…..the motivation has no factor on the technique.

  51. wait a second, we held Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards?

    Dang, not to be a jerk hurr’ but…. we should consider bringing it back… “Chicken Wings for Whoever tackles!”

  52. @golonger …

    If the players are being paid from an outside source and that money isn’t being recorded as salary, you better believe it’s a cap issue. That means they’re cheating the salary-cap system. You’ve got a lot of things in play here:

    1. They’re running an illegal structured bounty system, not designed to stop players from getting 100 yards but to permanently knock them out of the game and potentially end their careers.

    2. They’re continuing to run the system against the direct order of the team owner with the full knowledge of the GM, head coach, DC, and at least one position coach.

    3. They’re funding the program with money “donated” by someone outside the team, which means that additional payment to players is not being counted against the salary cap in violation of league rules.

    4. They’re funding the program with money “donated” by a convicted felon with a history of being involved in illegal sports-related schemes … which would make most rational people wonder what was in it for him. Hmmm … how could someone benefit from being know that a star player was likely to be injured and knocked out of a game? Why would an outside interest pay to make that happen? Come on, golonger … put on your thinking cap. Are you really calling me naive?

  53. conspiracy theorists abound around here, but these are the teams that one last year’s and the year before’s superbowls, so it would stand to reason that, if you ain’t cheatin you ain’t tryin- or winnin, that the giants will be next.

  54. As a Vikings fan, I’ll say that while the Packers bounty was illegal, it wasn’t even close to what the Saints were doing! The Saints were paying guys to intentionally injure opponents. And they stole a Super Bowl as a result. The Packers on the other hand, run a class organization that was paying small bonuses for good performace. The only dirty player I can even remember them ever having was Al Harris, and he’s long gone, ironically due to career ending injury, which is somewhat poetic justice considering his reputation for dirty hits.

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