NFL bounty investigation turns to Redskins, Bills, Titans, Jaguars

NFL bounty investigation also targeting Redskins, Bills, Titans, and Jaguars

3/5/12 in NFL   |   JoeKukura   |   488 respect

The New Orleans Saints are no longer the only team with a target on their back in the NFL bounty investigation of coach and coordinator Gregg Williams. Interviews and disclosures from over the weekend indicate that a bounty of Williams' previous teams -- the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and Jacksonville Jaguars -- may have run similar cash-for-knockout programs, and could be penalized for Williams' previous transgressions.

Williams is reportedly being called onto the carpet today by league investigators in New York. He admitted to and apologized Friday for a program offering cash rewards to New Orleans Saints for injuring or knocking out opposing teams' players. Williams was the Saints' defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011.

The Saints probably won't be the only team to take a black eye over the knock-out program. What started as a New Orleans Saints bounty scandal last week now looks to ensnare more than a half-dozen NFL teams, with the investigation just getting warmed up.

The Washington Post reported this weekend that Williams ran pretty much the exact same program as Redskins defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2007, with pretty much the exact same four-figure cash payouts. The Post found five previous and current Redskins players who confirmed the existence of an incentives-for-injury-hits system, in which the most lucrative hits were called "kill shots".

"Kill shots"? This is starting to sound like a bad Mickey Rourke movie.

"You got compensated more for a kill shot than you did other hits," an anonymous former Redskin who'd played under Williams told the Post.

Another current Washington Redskins player was even more forthcoming. "I’m pretty sure it did entice some guys to do more to a player than normal when it came to taking them out," the anonymous 'Skin told the Post. "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 unidentified player said.

Williams apparently hooked up his players more than a little bit in previous NFL head coach and coordinator gigs. Four former Buffalo Bills told the Buffalo News this weekend that Williams had also run a bounty system as Buffalo's head coach from 2001 to 2003.

"That's real. That happened in Buffalo," former Bills safety Coy Wire told the News. "There were rewards. There never was a point where cash was handed out in front of the team. But surely, you were going to be rewarded."

People, no team that has ever employed Gregg Williams is safe in this scandal. Williams was the Tennessee Titans' defensive coordinator from 1997-2000, and league investigators will surely sniff into his tenure there as well.

"We never had any bounties when I played, I know that,” former Tennessee Oiler and Titan Blaine Bishop told the Tennessean. Bishop played under Williams for two seasons. “Gregg never had any bounties," he said.

Jacksonville, you've got some possible liabilities here too. Gregg Williams was the Jaguars' defensive coordinator in 2008, though the Jacksonvillle Times-Union reports they did not find any evidence of a bounty program in Williams' Jacksonville tenure.

Cleveland Browns fans might want to be a little concerned, though. ESPN's sources name Browns linebacker Scott Fujita as the only player -- so far -- facing potential disciplinary action over bounties and kill shots. Fujita was a Saints' linebacker from 2006 to 2009.

And the St. Louis Rams, who currently employ Williams as their defensive coordinator, may be penalized with a loss of Williams' services. He has now clearly been shown as a repeat offender. Williams' transgressions could get him carted off the field for at least part of this season -- as part of a league-mandated suspension.

So the pool of teams targeted in the bounty investigation rises, and the investigation is just getting underway. This scandal could go on much longer, and end up involving quite a few players. So don't expect this bounty clean-up to be a quicker picker-upper.
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