After hearing the unfolding story about the "Bounty Fund" the player on the New Orleans Saints had set up over the past three years which paid out based on the type of hard hits on opposing players,many people concur that this is probably a common practice around the league. The common thought seems to be that the Saints are just the first team to be officially caught doing what evry team does in one way or another.
Does that mean that the Baltimore Ravens are included in that train of thought? Was or is there a similar fund within the closed locker room of the players offering payouts for nailing players and knocking them out of the game. Jamison Hensley of ESPN's AFC North Blog seems to think so, as he posted a story talking about an interview in 2008 that OLB Terrell Suggs gave.
In that interview, Suggs talks about a bounty on division foe Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward. Ward has been known to put punishing blocks on defenseless players and has flattened a couple of Ravens players over the years. That makes him a target of the defense and while he evaded the hard hit that so many players wanted to deliver on him, Ravens OLB Jarret Johnson finally got him on a play from early in the 2011 season. Johnson flatly denies receiving any payment for the pancake hit.
Suggs quickly backtracked on the use of the word, "bounty" and instead said they just wanted to keep an eye on certain players, and received a notice from the league to pretty much "cease and desist."
Lest any naive fan wants to believe their beloved Ravens are exempt for being guilty of the same things that are being levied at the Saints and also now the Washington Redskins, it might be time to wake up. To be blunt, had the defensive coordinator not been involved in this, there is a good chance this would have been a very boring and uninteresting story.
Teams have targeted opposing players since the game was invented and if the players themselves got together and put their own cash in a pot to dole out to their teammates based on solid hits during the game, then the league either was just as naive or just didn't care until Roger Goodell decided to crack down on what the league offices believe is a bit too much violence.
One player described how every position group put together a pot of money over the course of a season, mostly based on the things they did wrong, whether it be miss a tackle, late for practice or a meeting or dropping a sure interception. At the end of the year, they decided what to do with the money. One year, the player said, they gave the money to the trainers, another season they gave it to the housekeeping staff.
The point is, these "funds" exist and despite the league's best intentions, they probably will continue to exist, although perhaps without any coaches or front office personnel involved and definitely a lot more quietly than before.