But what would bounty systems look like in other sports?
@BreakTheHuddle (E-mail: BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com)
News broke yesterday detailing the New Orleans Saints’ system for rewarding defensive players financially for making plays such as interceptions or sacks, but also for injuring opponents, and it set the NFL world ablaze.[i] Bounties have long been a part of the NFL subculture – many teams are alleged to have them. Rumor has it the mistake that brought the Saints down was that there was a paper trail.[ii] But the news got me thinking – what do the bounty systems in other professional sports[iii] look like? Here are my best guesses.
Losing a tooth in a fight – $2,500
Knocking out an opponent’s tooth in a fight (must provide tooth to assistant coach as proof) – $5,000
Starting a fight – $7,500
Subtly blowing sand in the opposing goalie’s eyes – $10,000
Winning a fight – $15,000
Missing fewer than 1 game after a concussion – $20,000
Severely injuring Alexander Ovechkin – $25,000
Most home runs in batting practice – $2,500
Getting all your bunts to stay fair in batting practice (pitchers only) – $5,000
Staying awake for all 9 innings (if you aren’t in starting lineup) – $7,500
Stretching a single into a double (under 250 lbs) – $10,000
Stretching a single into a double (over 250 lbs) – $15,000
Make it through a week without going on the disabled list – $20,000
Beaning / injuring A.J. Pierzynski in any way – $25,000
Adding a visible tattoo – $2,500
Getting a stripper’s phone number (must be verified by assistant coach) – $5,000
Tying the opposing point guard’s shoelaces together during a stoppage in play – $7,500
Alley-oop to self off the backboard – $10,000
Successfully carrying the team stash of chronic through an airport – $15,000[iv]
Employing active listening skills during a timeout (actually listening to the coach – optional) – $20,000
Flagrant foul on Chris Bosh or Kris Humphries – $25,000
Attending all your classes in a week – $25,000
Making it through the entire season without asking any of the boosters for cash to get a cheerleader an abortion – $50,000
Having an arrest-free month -$75,000
Completing a semester academically eligible – $100,000
Signing with a top university – $120,000-$180,000[v]
Scoring a touchdown in national title game – $200,000
Injuring arch-rival’s quarterback – $250,000
Man, I wish I could go back in time, try really hard at football in high school (and take a lot of steroids), and play at the collegiate level. I’d be financially set right now. If you think I’m exaggerating, just think – Shaquille O’Neal made more money at LSU than he did in the NBA.[vi]
As implied in the headline, the real shame of the bounty system is not that it occurred, but that coaches felt it was necessary. A man making $1 million, $2 million or $5 million was actually motivated by a $1,500 incentive to knock a guy out of a game?
Maybe I’m looking at it wrong – maybe the poor NFL players were underpaid. That’s it! Sheesh, they’re exploited in college (wink wink) where their amateur status prevented them from making money off their sporting prowess (chuckle chuckle), and then they come into the NFL where slave-driving coaches dangle chump change in front of them as incentive to harm other people. It’s modern slavery, I tell you, modern slavery!
So the next time you’re watching a game, and you see an injury, just know that some poor, exploited player is just trying to feed his family.[vii] That should make the whole thing much more palatable, don’t you think?[viii]
[iii] For the purposes of this article, NCAA Football players are professional athletes.
[iv] This is tripled on road trips to Toronto, because shoot, transporting ganja across international borders has consequences…
[vii] Or have some spare change in his pocket for the strip club.
[viii] From Twitter: “@damienwoody: This ‘bounty’ program happens all around the league…not surprising”
“@damienwoody: The bigger question w/ this ‘bounty’ issue is…..WHO SNITCHED?!?!”