The National Football League is finishing up its investigation on the New Orleans Saints, who were paying players to hurt opponents.
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who played for the Saints, and former Browns players are talking about what has now become known as Bounty-gate.
“It really doesn’t surprise me that there was a more formal type of Bounty-gate going on,” said former Browns quarterback Mike Pagel.
Pagel and former Browns running back Greg Pruitt are not surprised that Bounty-gate, an incentive program where players got paid to injure other players, is happening in the NFL.
“It does surprise me that it got to this level but it doesn’t surprise me,” said Pagel. “I hate to use this term but the NFL is a game of guys who think they are warriors.”
“I guess the only thing new to me is that they are paying these guys,” Pruitt said. “Really they don’t have to, they get after each other anyway.”
According to both Pagel and Pruitt, Bounty-gate, as it’s being called around the league, has been going on since the early days of football.
“I know back when I played there were times when guys on other teams deserved to be hurt, at least we thought they were, so there was informal ways of getting after people but never any payments,” Pagel said.
“The people you have to watch out for are the people that you know, the people from the other team, your friends because it was always bragging rights for that friend,” said Pruitt.
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who played for the New Orleans Saints from 2006 to 2009 during the height of the bounty-program, told Peter King of SI.com that he did participate in an incentive-program.
“Over the years I’ve paid out a lot of money for big plays like interceptions, sacks and special teams tackles inside the 20, but I’ve never made a payment for intentionally injuring another player,” Fujita was quoted as saying.
A source told Sports Illustrated that Fujita contributed between $2,000 and $10,000 to the performance and bounty pool.
Pagel believes the NFL needs to come down hard when handing out punishment to prevent Bounty-gate from happening again in the future.
“The way you hurt NFL teams is to take away draft choices,” said Pagel. “As far as individuals that are involved in it, you hurt them by going to their pocketbook.”