Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints Had Bounty Systems That Paid for Big Hits
The Washington Redskins had a bounty system for big hits on opponents under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that was similar to the one revealed by an NFL investigation of the New Orleans Saints, four players who played under Williams said Friday.
Three of the players described a coach who doled out thousands of dollars to Redskins defenders who measured up to Williams’s scoring system for rugged play, including “kill shots” that knocked opposing teams’stars out of a game.
“You got compensated more for a kill shot than you did other hits,” said one former player, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Of the four players interviewed, only Philip Daniels, a former defensive lineman, was willing to be quoted on the record. He defended Williams’s coaching. Daniels now serves as the team’s director of player development.
Players said compensation ranged from “hundreds to thousands of dollars,” with the biggest sum any player received believed to be about $8,000.
“I never took it for anything [but] just incentive to make good, hard plays,” said a current player, who requested anonymity. “But I’m pretty sure it did entice some guys to do more to a player than normal when it came to taking them out. I mean, that’s cash. Let’s just be honest about it.
“If you took the star player out, he’d hook you up a little bit.”
The Redskins declined to comment through team spokesman Tony Wyllie.
Daniels said he believed Williams began the program with money from fines collected from players for being late for meetings or practices. “Rather than pocket that money or whatever, he would re-distribute it to players who had good games or good practices.”
He said the most he ever received was $1,500 for a four-sack game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2005.
“I think it is wrong the way they’re trying to paint [Williams],” Daniels added. “He never told us to go out there and break a guy’s neck or break a guy’s leg. It was all in the context of a good, hard football.”
He acknowledged Williams’s system for awarding players’ cash featured more money for what Williams’ deemed “physical play.” “Sean Taylor made a lot,” he said of the hard-hitting safety who was killed in his Miami home in 2007.
The other three players interviewed portrayed Williams as a “coach who just took it a little too far,” in the words of one.
“He actually had a saying, ‘If you cut the snake’s head off, the body will die,’ that was his motto,” said the player. “It was made clear that he was talking about not just running backs who turned their heads the opposite way and how they would go down, but also about other stars on offense that were the best players on that team.”
The NFL announced Friday that the Saints operated an improper bounty program that paid players as much as $1,500 for hits that injured opposing players.
The program, administered by Williams, also a former defensive coordinator there, paid $1500 for a “knockout” hit and $1000 if an opponent was carted off the field between 2009 and 2011, the NFL said. Most of the money was contributed by players, but Williams also donated to the fund.