Friday, March 9, 2012

Sports Q&A: NFL is Too Bounty-licious

By Jeffrey Boswell

The NFL is investigating the New Orleans Saints, alleging that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and several defensive players maintained a bounty program to reward players for injuring targeted players. Is this anything to be alarmed about?

The only thing alarming in this whole situation is the inability of players and coaches to keep a secret. You want an alarm? Okay, I'll set it to go off so everyone can wake up and realize that all teams have bounty systems, in one form or another. In the NFL, bounties are like a-holes — everybody's got one, or, in the case of the New York Jets, more than one.

The Saints, however, are likely to take the brunt of the fall because their bounty system was outed. Maybe the Saints should have offered cash incentives to players and coaches who didn't divulge sensitive information about activities that the league strictly discourages. Already, the NFL is played under enough rules and regulations; the last thing the league needs is more "whistle-blowers."

Before reacting harshly, the league needs to take a deep breath and realize that bounties are a part of the game, and have been for decades. They shouldn't condone it, nor should they outlaw it. They should deal with it. Why? Because everybody's doing it, and everybody's been doing it. In fact, every team in the NFL has, and has had, its own unique bounty system, each with a distinctive name and distinctive stipulations.

NFC East

Dallas — In the Big D, the Cowboys "Seeing Stars" bounty system involved targeting the opposition's best players. Was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in any way a part of the program? Who knows, but Cowboys players often claimed to be "Jonesing" for a bounty payout, some often in excess of the $20,000 placed on the head of former Eagles defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.

New York Giants — In the Giants bounty program, payments are code-named "Theismann Trophies" in honor of Lawrence Taylor, who was known for offering bounties that only he was eligible to win, often winning them and using the proceeds for a number of illegal activities.

Philadelphia Eagles — Ryan, often called the "godfather" of NFL bounty systems, left a lasting legacy in Philadelphia. He was, however, smart enough not to talk about. Thus, the legend of the "Bounty Bowl Muffle." Nowadays, Eagles players cash in bounties by way of the "Buddy System," and, in true Ryan fashion, are sometimes rewarded for taking shots at their own coaches.

Washington Redskins — In Washington, Redskins players received "Capitol Gains" by cashing in on a bounty.

NFC North

Chicago — For members of the Chicago Bears, making an opposing player "Hibernate" meant you were due a payment from the bounty fund. Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus was a frequent collector, but the hunter became the hunted when officials at NBC offered a bounty to anyone who could get Butkus off 1980s sitcom My Two Dads.

Detroit — If a Detroit player disabled an opponent, he would receive the "Lion's Share" bounty payoff.

Green Bay — When a Packer player knocks out an opponent, he is rewarded with "High Cheese," a payment which includes cash and the option to by purely symbolic stock in the team.

Interesting note: Brett Favre is the only player in NFL history to be a target in the bounty systems of all 32 NFL teams, including Green Bay's.

Minnesota — Minnesota's seldom-talked about bounty system, nicknamed "Mute on the Bounty," was often overlooked in Minneapolis. That's because it was often overshadowed by stories about sex boat scandals, "Whizzonators," Randy Moss-moonings, or Favre.

NFC South

Atlanta — The Falcons "Dirty Bird" bounty encourages injuring opponents by any means necessary.

Carolina — Taking a page from folk singer James Taylor, the Panthers "Carolina On My Mind" bounty system actually condones head shots on opponents.

New Orleans — When a New Orleans opponent was targeted for "Sainthood," that meant he could expect Saints bounty hunters coming after him.

Tampa Bay — It is rumored that Warren Sapp said that any Buccaneer who earned a bounty could collect the money stashed in the Tampa Bay dressing room in "Davey Jones Locker."

NFC West

Arizona — If, say, you are Darnell Dockett and you knocked the opponent's quarterback out of the game, you have earned your "Just Deserts."

St. Louis — In the Show Me State, the Rams "Mo. Money" bounty system not only rewarded players for injuring opponents, but often for just merely making tackles.

San Francisco — If a 49er pulled off a "49 'im," then he earned a bounty payout.

Seattle — In Seattle, where the "12th Man" cheers on the home team, the Seahawks administered the "10th Man" bounty program, whereby a Seahawks was rewarded for knocking out a player, thereby leaving the opposition one man short.

AFC East

Buffalo — What does a Bill receive for KO'ing an opponent? "Buffalo Chips," of course, redeemable for cash, groceries, or lost helmets in the Bills bounty commissary.

Miami — The Dolphins took NFL immorality to new levels with the "Miami Vice" bounty system, which members of the 1972 team still insist was the NFL's best.

New England — Not only does Bill Belichick institute a bounty system, he has video proof that bounty programs exist for 31 other teams. For New England players, making an opponent disappear from a game was rewarded in the "Patriot Missing" bounty program.

New York Jets — In the Jets "Broadway Jolt" system, players can earn a bounty in two ways: by knocking an opponent out of the game, or by correctly naming all of Antonio Cromartie's children. Unfortunately for Mark Sanchez, no bounty is given for crippling the team's playoff chances.

AFC North

Baltimore — Who else but Ray Lewis would be in charge of the Ravens bounty scheme? In the "Dough, Ray, Me" system, players received cash for knockout blows, but only after review and approval from Lewis.

Cincinnati — In Cincinnati, the bounty payments fall under the jurisdiction of the "Jungle Juice" system, whereby Bengals, for a change, received time off for bad behavior, earning days off for injuring an opponent.

Cleveland — In Cleveland, home of the Dawg Pound, Browns players who collected a bounty proudly boast "I've Got a Boner."

Pittsburgh — In Pittsburgh's "Terrible Bowels" bounty program, Steelers can earn money by knocking the you-know-what out of opponents.

AFC South

Houston — Head coach Gary Kubiak may have looked the other way when bounties were mentioned, but there's no mistaking his influence on the system when a Texan collected a "Kubi-Snack."

Indianapolis — One has to be heartless to seek rewards for hurting opponents. That's not a problem in Indy's "Colt Blooded" bounty system.

Jacksonville — If a Jacksonville player were bound by a "Jag Order," then he was seeking to collect on a bounty.

Tennessee — If a Titan player rendered an opponent helpless, he was rewarded by virtue of Tennessee's "Involuntary State" bounty system.

AFC West

Denver — Broncos players looking for bounty glory sought to leave opponents numb. Hence, the "Things to Do in Denver When You're Deadened" bounty system.

Kansas City — Instead of setting bounties, the Chiefs made "Reservations," and a player who accepted these reservations went after the targeted opponent.

Oakland — Of course the Raiders employ a bounty system, and the late Al Davis was all for it. In the "Al-i-money" system, payouts are made in official Raiders currency featuring the head shot of Jack Tatum, a denomination which is easily laundered and practically untraceable.

San Diego — Chargers players who made the big hits got credits to their "Charge Account," and used their cards for purchases at Southern California area package stores, head shops, gentlemen's clubs, and black market supplement dealers.

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