Going into the 2009 NFC championship game on January 24, 2010, the New Orleans Saints apparently put a $10,000 bounty on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. Any defensive player who could knock Favre out of the game stood to collect the reward.
The video clip below collects the Saints’ hits on Favre during the game. Some of the hits were par for the course. Some were over the top. And the Saints succeeded in hobbling Favre with an ankle injury. Shouldn’t those involved — the coaches if not the players — be thrown out of the NFL? Favre himself has a realist’s take on the issue — see below.
The bounty system reportedly dervived from Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. At last word, Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that “happened under our watch.” Their culpability appears to extend beyond that formulaic acknowledgement.
Former Minnesota Vikings great Fran Tarkenton condemns the bounty system in this Wall Street Journal column. Fran’s thinking is certainly in line with the NFL’s and maybe even more realistic than Favre’s, but there is a romantic tinge to his column. Nevertheless, although the game is violent, promoting the intent to injure is beyond the bounds.
Sports illustrated columnist Peter King has been following the story. In his story King quotes Favre on the bounty bowl: “Since that game, I haven’t gone a week without someone asking me whether I thought there was a bounty on me that day. Now it’s come out to be true. But it’s football. I’m not going to make a big deal of it.”
King returned to the story in this update on Monday. In Monday’s update King quotes Favre again on the bounty bowl: “In all honesty, there’s a bounty of some kind on you on every play. Now, in that game there were some plays that, I don’t want to say were odd, but I’d throw the ball and whack, on every play. Hand it off, whack. Over and over. Some were so blatant. I hand the ball to Percy Harvin early and got drilled right in the chin. They flagged that one at least.”
I’m not sure “odd” quite covers it. Let’s go to the tape. You be the judge.