“Bountygate” will gown down in infamy as a defining moment for the NFL. And it was back in the news on Wednesday.
In case you don’t remember, “Bountygate” was the scandal involving the New Orleans Saints and their defense during the 2009-2010 NFL Playoffs. The team put bounties on opposing players where members of the team could earn financial compensation by injuring them. The most famous instance of this was against the Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Brett Favre.
After the NFL discoverd the bounty program in New Orleans, they delivered very harsh punishment. In addition to head coach Sean Payton being suspended for the entire 2012 season and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams being suspended indefinitely, the team was fined $500,000, which is the maximum fine allowed under the league constitution.
Although they got heavily punished, they apparently were not the only ones with a bounty program. According to former Vikings’ offensive lineman Artis Hicks, Minnesota also had a very similar bounty program.
“It was part of the culture,” Hicks said in a book excerpt published by Deadspin. “I had coaches start a pot and all the veterans put in an extra $100, $200, and if you hurt someone special, you get the money. There was a bottom line, and I think we all bought in: you’re there to win, and if taking out the other team’s best player helps you win, hey, it’s nothing personal. Just business.”
Hicks played for the Vikings in 2009 during the same season that the Saints were accused of “Bountygate” and he told Jeff Pearlman, the author of a new Brett Favre biography, about Minnesota’s similar policy.
It will be interesting to see if the NFL has a response to the claims by Hicks. Brad Childress, coach of the Vikings in 2009, informed the NFL after the NFC Championship game that he heard the Saints had a bounty on Favre. He testified in former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s hearing on “Bountygate”, but was very quiet to the public about the matter. Possibly to avoid being called a hypocrite in public, considering he was apparently doing the same thing.