Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said last Friday on WFNZ Radio in Charlotte that he thinks bounty type systems went on throughout the league, but that he also thinks that players need to just deal with the discipline that Roger Goodell hands down now because of the power that they gave him when they ratified the new CBA last off-season.
When Ward was asked specifically on The Mack Attack Show if he thought bounties went on throughout the league, Ward replied, “I think it went on throughout the league, but at the same time it\’s uncalled for,” said Ward. “The teams, such as the Saints, yes, it may have been that everybody was doing it, but they\’re the ones who got put on tape in the playoff game, and of course, Brett Favre. You don\’t want to add extra incentive to go out there to hurt somebody, our game is already violent as it is. And then to go out there and be proud about collecting money on trying take food off someone\’s table, that\’s uncalled for.”
“So Roger Goodell, even though a lot of players don\’t really like him in charge, we as a NFLPA, we signed on to that new collective bargaining agreement,” continued Ward.
“And to be noted, we were the only team to vote against it, because that was a major factor. we were getting highly fined on our team and in order to go to an appeals committee, we had to go right back to Roger Goddell. So that was one of the big things that we voted no against because we felt like it was going to be unfair.
“But to the rest of the teams that did vote on the CBA, he\’s in charge, and he makes the rules, and you have to abide by it, because that\’s what you signed on for.”
Since the punishment to the Saints players was handed down by Goodell several weeks ago, several players around the league have spoken out to say that they wish that they hadn\’t ratified the CBA. Their reason is because of Goodell remaining in charge of player discipline. The Steelers were of course the only team to vote against ratifying the new CBA for that very reason.
Ward saying that he thinks that bounties went on throughout the league is not very surprising to me as many believe that the Baltimore Ravens had one on Ward and running back Rashard Mendenhall back in 2008. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs announced for the world to hear when he was asked on a syndicated radio show that October if the Ravens had placed a bounty on Mendenhall, who sustained a season-ending shoulder injury during the week 4 game against the Ravens. “Definitely. The bounty was out on him and the bounty was out on [Ward] — we just didn\’t get him between the whistles,” said Suggs.
Suggs of course tried to clarify his radio interview admission later to the Baltimore Sun, but Ray Anderson, the NFL\’s executive vice president of football operations, declared at that time that the league was indeed looking into the Suggs comments. Anderson told ESPN.com, “That \’bounty\’ notion is completely against the rules. To the extent that someone is engaged in that activity, we will look into it and address it. Yes, we\’ve seen the comments and we\’re trying to determine the completeness of the circumstances.”
Nothing ever came out of the investigation though.
Ward was asked his thoughts on the Suggs declaration after it was made and he would only say at that time, “I am really not going to comment. But all I have to say to Mr. Suggs is there\’s a policy in the NFL [against bounties] he should read.”
Goodell and Anderson had a golden opportunity to nip all of this bounty stuff in the bud back in 2008 with a hefty fine and a strong warning to the rest of the league, but he chose not to do so. Would it have stopped the Saints from doing what they allegedly went on to do? Who knows.