Could the bounty system affect HS football?
On March 22nd New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and general manager Mickey Loomis were all suspended for a scandal known as the “Bountygate.” This “Bountygate” was designed to pay bonuses to defensive players on one team who intentionally knocked key players on the opposing team out of the game.
In the New Orleans Saints’ case, this system was rumored to have lasted from the 2009 season (the year the Saints won the Super Bowl) to the 2011 season. The NFL found evidence surrounding 22-27 players who contributed to this system as well as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams who all paid the “bounties” out of their own pockets. Head Coach Payton tried to cover up the system and G.M. Mickey Loomis failed to shut down the program when he was ordered to do so by Saints' owner Tom Benson.
The NFL suspended Payton for the entire 2012-2013 season without pay, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, G.M. Mickey Loomis was suspended for 8 games, and the Saints have to forfeit two draft picks this upcoming draft. This scandal may set a precedent to other football teams whether in the NFL, AFL, CFL, or NCAA about sanctions for this system. I personally think this system still exists and will continue to exist in the future. But as high school students we should ask ourselves if this system occurs in our youth football programs and football communities.
As a football player myself, I understand how physical the game can get. For around 40-48 minutes you’re surrounded by aggressive and tough people who will do just about anything to win. With that aggressive and motivated spirit, some high school students could be very open to laying clean but hard hits that may result in injury for a couple bucks here and there. Just as long as they’re not classified as dirty and are totally legal, right? This is a very possible mindset for many high school football athletes, making the “Bountygate” system capable of occuring in many high school communities.
As an offensive lineman, I have the job of protecting the quarterback and running back who are located directly behind me. I can’t see the two but I do know they are there. In that same way if they are tired or in any other way vulnerable I still wouldn’t know that because again, they are located right behind me. However the defender who’s located right in front of me will. So in that same way wouldn’t the defender try to use his strength and power to lay a clean and hard blow to injure the quarterback and/or the running back? If the defender sees a vulnerable target he could become a “bounty” and use his strength in a dangerous way.
Another way “Bountygating” can occur is through peer pressure. From personal experience I have overheard some players from the other teams say, “If you hurt number (X) I’ll give you (X) dollars.” This mentality can lead to more “Bountygate” incidents nationwide among high schools. The most destructive thing about this method is that this pressure doesn’t even always necessarily have to come from teammates, but could come from coaches and other adults on the football team staff. This train of thought could be very costly if it spreads in the long run.
This system could be very common throughout the country, and the problem is that we don’t know about it and how are we ever going to find out about it? This system is very dangerous and could result in very serious repercussions. If “Bounygate” starts to become a serious problem, we might never view football the same ever again.