By Steve Corkran
Friday, March 2nd, 2012 at 5:33 pm in Oakland Raiders.
There is nothing to suggest that new Raiders head coach Dennis Allen was aware of or had anything to do with the New Orleans Saints “bounty” program when he was the Saints’ defensive backs coach. Yet, he is going to be linked to the issue, if for no other reason than by association.
The NFL on Friday released the results from an invesitigation that found that 22-27 players, as well as former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, participated in a bounty program in which players were rewarded for injuring opposing players.
Four former Washington Redskins players reportedly said Williams implemented a similar program when he was their defensive coordinator.
Allen spent five seasons with the Saints. He was their assistant defensive line coach in 2006-07 and then coached the defensive backs from 2008-10. The transgressions took place the past three seasons, according to the NFL’s findings. Allen was the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator in 2011.
The NFL’s findings implicated Saints owner Tom Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton as being aware of the program. At one point, Benson directed Loomis to end the program.
Williams left the Saints after the 2011 season and signed with the St. Louis Rams. On Friday, he issued the following statement:
“I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the ‘pay-for-performance’ program while I was with the Saints,” Williams said. “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”
It’s difficult to imagine Allen being unaware of the bounty program, given the scope of the players implicated and the fact the owner, coach and defensive coordinator knew about the so-called pay-for-performance program.
Just the same, Allen deserves the benefit of the doubt and a chance to speak to the matter. He has not spoken publicly on the issue as of yet. A Raiders official said the team won’t comment on the matter, when contacted about getting a statement from Allen.
The NFL’s findings showed that players contributed money to the program and were paid in one of two forms based on their performance from the previous game.
For instance, players allegedly were paid $1,000 for causing an opposing player to be carted off the field and $1,500 for knocking a player out of a game.
Naturally, that kind of revelation doesn’t sit well with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” Goodell said in a statement. “We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.”
In my more than 16 years covering the Raiders, never once have I heard of the Raiders participating in a bounty program or even talking about going after a player in the vain the Saints did the past three seasons.
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