Although I consider being a retired NFL player of 14 seasons a badge of honor, Iʼm first
and foremost a child of the 80s. I grew up discovering BMX and “Golden Age” hip-hop and was a big fan of the Star Wars movies.
My favorite character from those movies? Boba Fett, the helmeted hired gun and bounty hunter who was charged with capturing whoeverʼs head held the highest price.
He was my kind of guy.
So this scandal involving the Saints and their ‘bounty’ system, or as many less prone to violence call it “pay for play” system, is making my childhood and adulthood intersect in a way I never thought it would.
Now, let me get this out of the way first: All teams do it. Itʼs true. What the Saints
are doing/have done is as old and biblical as Kane and Abel. Itʼs so common in fact that
when I heard about it, I yawned, took a nap, woke up, then remembered how many thousands I stuffed into the pockets of the guys who werenʼt paid like I was for making big plays.
When I say big plays, I mean causing fumbles or interceptions. So, really the “bounty” myself and most NFL players participated in werenʼt much different than any you might hear on an elementary school playground.
Think “Iʼll give you a dollar if you give lil’ Junebug a wedgie” and youʼre in the ballpark.
When youʼre nine years old, thatʼs the equivalent of getting a sack on 4th down — a big play.
But what the Saints were doing was more along the lines of “Iʼll give you a dollar if you give lil’ Junebug a wedgie while stealing his lunch, kissing his girlfriend and destroying his science project he worked on all school year.”
Case and point? A simple wager gone way too far.
The reports about them offering $10,000 for knock outs and hits that made players
leave the game, especially star players like Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, is along the lines of what the great Boba Fett did in The Empire Strikes Back. Bring in the guy worth the money. And that 100 percent falls in line with what my old defensive line coach used to say: “One percent of the players (quarterbacks) make 90 percent of the money.” So in essence Gregg Williams, the Saints defensive coordinator who orchestrated all of this, found it necessary to play the role of Boba Fett and bring those guys in.
And that he did, not by his own hand, but by sending his goons to do his bidding. But
thatʼs where the awesome comparison ends. Because unlike Gregg Williams, Fett didnʼt
have his goons do it. He did it himself.
Now honestly, I donʼt think many people find it that appalling that there were guys paid a
little extra to hurt other players. The sport of pro football is a violent one with grown
men being paid a kings ransom for a kidʼs game. And honestly, knocking somebody silly
is what weʼre all paid to do in the first place.
So the number of broken bones, concussions, tears, rips and contusions that are done
by way of something within the rules of the game far exceeds those done with malicious
intent. I can assure you that you canʼt hurt a guy wearing a helmet with your fist. Iʼve
But at the end of the day it wasnʼt the action that got the Saints and Gregg Williams in
trouble, it was the intent. When was the last time you heard about the guy who threatened the president from 200 miles away?
And the fact that Williams and the Saints were keeping detailed records of this with
thousands pages of documents just makes this weird in a way I canʼt fathom. Which keeps me thinking that Coach Williams really did believe he was a bounty hunter doing what a bounty hunter does.
But I have a message for him.
“Coach, you are no Boba Fett.”