In an interview for a biography about Brett Favre, former Vikings offensive lineman Artis Hicks told author Jeff Pearlman that coaches on the Vikings had a bounty program similar to the one that landed Saints coach Sean Payton, current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and others suspensions from the NFL after the 2009 season.
Hicks alleged the Vikings, who faced the Saints in that year’s NFC title game and saw Favre get battered over the course of the contest, had their program in place that year as well. Linebacker Ben Leber was also on that team and said he was unaware of such activities as did defensive end Bryan Robison, adding that he thought Hicks was “trying to bring attention” to himself.
The Vikings released a brief statement on Thursday — “There is no truth to it” — and then-Vikings coach Brad Childress, who testified in the Bountygate appeals hearing, also added his own denial.
“I had a great opportunity to coach a lot of great people there, including Artis Hicks, at the Minnesota Vikings,” Childress said, via ESPN.com. “I have too much respect for the Wilf family [and] professional football to have anything to do with a bounty system. I’m going to let it stand at that.”
There’s been no word from the NFL about plans to look into Hicks’ comments. The league’s suspensions of Payton, Williams and other coaches from the Saints stood, but four players suspended by the league had the penalties overturned in an appeal heard by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.