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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pair of Packers back off ‘bounties’

Officials look into whether players offered rewards for plays

November 21, 2007

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— A running back can give each of his offensive linemen a nice wristwatch at the end of the season to reward them for their blocking. Dan Marino can make commercials about giving his offensive linemen gloves to get on their good side.

So what's wrong with defensive players offering financial incentives to teammates for achieving specific defensive goals?

That was the question of the day in Green Bay on Tuesday, where Packers defensive backs Charles Woodson and Al Harris were backpedaling as if it was gameday after their apparent willingness to pay teammates for their play attracted scrutiny from NFL officials.

"I don't see anything wrong with it, but obviously the league has a policy and they're enforcing it," Woodson said. "That's all I can say about it."

Woodson said he honestly didn't know such payments were against the rules, because he'd heard that other teams did it.

Woodson also wanted to make it clear the Packers weren't offering "bounties" in the traditional sense - they didn't want anybody to get hurt.

"I didn't know the league had a strict policy on it as far as what you can do," Woodson said. "But I know one thing about our team: Nobody went out there trying to hurt anybody, even if there was some sort of bounty. We're not those type of players. So we're not worried about that at all."

Harris was more evasive, insisting he hadn't heard anything about it.

"You guys are calling me a liar," Harris said. "I'm appalled."

Harris then began answering additional questions about bounties by talking about Thursday's opponent, the Detroit Lions.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed Monday that league officials were investigating whether Packers players offered such payments to teammates.

League rules prohibit teams and players "from offering or accepting bonuses to a player for his or his team's performance against a particular team, a particular opposing player or players, or a particular group of an opposing team."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday the issue was a "miscommunication," and took the blame, along with general manager Ted Thompson.

"That's Ted's and my responsibility," McCarthy said. "I don't think the players thought that they were doing anything wrong."

Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and several other players declined comment.

"It's not a distraction," Pickett said. "We're just not talking about it."

ESPN reported that Packers players offered to pay the team's defensive linemen $500 each if they were able to hold Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing two weeks ago. They offered another $500 for holding Carolina to under 60 yards rushing as a team on Sunday.

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