Echoing the sentiments of former teammate Phillip Daniels, who spoke to The Post when news first broke of Williams’ pay-for-injury-inducing hits system in New Orleans, Rogers said in Washington, players were simply rewarded for making quality plays they already would have made. The cornerback – now a member of the San Francisco 49ers – said the Redskins never aimed to intentionally injure specific opponents to receive payments.
Speaking on San Francisco’s KNBR (audio here), Rogers said the term “bounty” has blown out of proportion what is common practice in the NFL.
“It wasn’t a bounty system. I’m close to Gregg, and I’m not trying to be biased. He’s one of the coaches I admire and would always love to play for,” said Rogers, who played for Williams from 2004-07. “But, it wasn’t a bounty system.
“It all started, when you’d be in the [defensive backs] room, just making wagers. Every DB put $100 in the pot. There’d probably be 10 of us in the room, that week, somebody get an interception, they’d get that $1,000. That’s basically what it was. You make a big hit, you put some money in the pot. It wasn’t about all these guys putting money in the pot for you to intentionally hurt somebody.
“What Gregg do, is if you be late, I think it was like $1,900 fine by the league. If you miss a meeting, I think it’s $9,600 or somewhere up in that area. What he’d do, you don’t have to pay that [to the league], you’d pay $2,000 or something, but he’d just keep it in the room, you’d just keep it in the pot, and the guys that do perform, ‘OK, $1,000 if you get an interception. You get an interception return for a touchdown, you get $1,500.’ Stuff like that.”
Former Redskins and a member of Williams’s coaching staff in Washington told The Post back on March 1, however, that the Redskins received more money for “kill shots” than other hits. The NFL has said that their investigation didn’t turn up proof that the Redskins did have such a system in place.
Rogers said it was players, not Williams, who suggested prizes for knocking players out of games. But he said players everywhere have that goal anyway.
“It went on to guys just suggesting stuff in the room: ‘You knock this player out, say you get a receiver, he come across the middle, safety knock him out, legal hit, you get this amount of money.’ Not intentionally — if you think about it, when you play football, you knock someone out, hit them legally, you get some money. If you hit him wrong, and you get $1,500? You’re getting fined by the league $15,000. So what risk do you want to take? Getting this $1,500 in this defensive room and getting fined $15,000? You’re losing money.”
Rogers was asked why, then, there was a need for any type of motivational bonuses.
“It’s just competition in the room,” Rogers said. “Once that ball snaps, you don’t even think about what you talked about that week in the room. It’s not like you get an interception and you think, ‘Oh, man, I get this $1,500.’ You’re not even thinking about $1,500. When guys are making millions of dollars a year, $1,500 is really not — it’s probably taking care of your child’s daycare or something. It’s not something you’re so excited about because it makes a difference in your weekly paycheck. It’s just competition.”
Rogers then expressed the belief that the bounty system story has drawn overreactions both from the media and from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“People make such a big deal about it. That’s what I hate,” Rogers said. “I don’t know really what went on with the Saints, they’re talking about guys, players getting $10,000. Naw, that’s not happening, not in my years. The way people use it, when it gets to the media, when it gets to ESPN, they just make it so much worse. You get former coaches, that I’m pretty sure they knew what was going on, but they get on TV and make it like it’s so bad, like they didn’t do it, and it makes it that much worse. I just laugh, thinking, ‘Man, these players were sitting in the room doing the same thing, knowing it wasn’t nobody out trying to kill nobody.’
“We’re sitting here [last January in San Francisco in the playoffs] saying, ‘We need to take Eli out.’ That’s how we were going to win this game, that’s the person that was going to help New York win the game. You don’t think our linemen, linebackers were really trying to hit him? Not trying to hurt him as far as end his career. If you really want to hurt him, you’d take a player who normally never plays, and say, ‘If you get a shot on the quarterback, take his knees out.’ Because all they’re going to do is fine him, and you pay his fine for him. If you really want to take somebody out, you can take him out. You’d tell somebody to take his knees out and really end their career and take them out game.
“The ‘bounty’ word people are saying really made things worse. Will guys stop doing it in their rooms? I doubt it. All the hits I’ve seen when they were showing the Saints, I seen good hits. I didn’t see nobody getting stretched off the field. They didn’t show any of that.”
Rogers said he believes the NFL’s indefinite suspension of Williams received and year-long suspension of Saints Coach Sean Payton are too harsh.
“I was surprised it was that severe, but being who he is and knowing how [Goodell] is, I’ll say, a dictator, I knew he would do something serious. I don’t agree with a lot of the things he does, so I’m not a person that would give a fair assessment, but I figured he’d do something to that extent. I think that’s way too much.
“I think he wants safety for the players, but at the same sense, if it was somebody who actually played football, and knows what goes on out there on the field to be up there, it would probably be different. Because a lot of stuff you can’t prevent. I can see some hits that need to be a little different. But it’s football. It’s the same sport we’ve been playing since I was 8 years old.
“A lot of stuff you can’t prevent, but a lot of it’s about money because the fines are just ridiculous. You’re fining guys $75,000, stuff like that. That’s just ridiculous. Especially if it’s somebody that don’t even make $15,000 or $20,000 a week. They’re going into the next week’s check. Some of the fines are just ridiculous.”
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