That's a bounty? You've got to be kidding

Calling a $500 incentive among players a bounty is ridiculous. What's next? Game balls, wonders's Steve Lawrence.

Seriously, have you ever heard anything as stupid as the Bountygate?

First of all, when I hear the word "bounty," I think back to former Packers defensive lineman Charles Martin, who wore a "hit list" with the numbers of Chicago Bears players during a 1986 game. Martin collected his own bounty by slamming Bears quarterback Jim McMahon to the turf countless seconds after a play ended.

Or, when former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan allegedly put a hit on Dallas kicker Luis Zendejas during a 1999 game; Zendejas' day ended with a concussion.

The newest incarnation of the bounty isn't even a bounty. Lions quarterback Jon Kitna said as much while talking to reporters who cover the Packers during a teleconference on Tuesday.

"I think that's a real good thing for your football team," he said. "I don't know if it is against the rules, and if it is, it shouldn't be. They're not paying people to go out and hurt somebody. There's paying people to do their job."

That some Packers defensive backs allegedly offered the defensive linemen $500 apiece if they could help hold Minnesota's Adrian Peterson to less than 100 yards seems like a fun incentive. It's not like Colin Cole ended Peterson's day by hitting him with a steel chair, WWE style.

What's next? Will a 1,000-yard rusher be fined for buying his offensive linemen watches? Is giving a game ball to the player of the game a bounty, too?

I suppose, if I squint really hard or use a pair of Hubble-sized binoculars, I can see the NFL's point. While what the Packers did seems harmless, the league has to draw a line at some point, and it's better to err on the side of caution.

It's unfortunate, however that the long arm of the NFL law cracked down now, because what would the "bounty" be against Detroit on Thanksgiving? Two weeks ago against Arizona, the Lions rushed for minus-18 yards, which not surprisingly set a modern NFL record for futility. Last week against the Giants, the Lions rushed 11 times (including the first four plays of the game) for 25 yards. If you're counting, in two games, that's 19 rushes for 7 yards.

Maybe, as a mea culpa to the NFL, the Packers' defensive linemen could return the money to the defensive backs if the Lions get past the line of scrimmage on at least half of their rushing attempts. Or, in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, they could pay for Shaun Rogers' enrollment in Jenny Craig.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to E-mail him at

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