Suggs warned by NFL about 'bounties'

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was warned Friday that any further comments or on-field actions indicating his participation in bounty activities against NFL players could trigger "significant disciplinary action," according to an NFL spokesman.

Suggs was informed in a letter by NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson about the potential consequences of violating the league's policy after saying there was a "bounty" on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and running back Rashard Mendenhall during a recent interview with an Atlanta radio station.

In an apparent attempt at damage control, Suggs downplayed, clarified and apologized for his comments through a statement released by the Ravens' public relations department.

"I did repeat the word 'bounty' early in the interview after the guy asking me the question used the word, that was a mistake," Suggs said in the statement. "I misspoke, and I'm sorry for that. I hope that clears this up."

In his previous remarks, Suggs said of Mendenhall, whose shoulder was broken and his season ended by middle linebacker Ray Lewis during a 23-20 overtime win over Baltimore on Sept. 29, that: "The bounty was out on him and the bounty was out on Hines. We just didn't get him between the whistles. We definitely like to send messages to rookie running backs. We did a good job of sending a message. Hines Ward is definitely a dirty player, a cheap-shot artist. We got something in store for him."

However, Suggs stressed Friday that the Ravens had never placed a bounty on the Steelers, including Ward, who has built a reputation for devastating, borderline blocks like the one that broke Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers' jaw and ended his season.

"We, the players, don't pay each other to take another player out of the game," Suggs said. "As I said before, we prepare to stop the other team's best players every week. Those are the players who can beat you with big plays.

"For example, we've focused all this week on stopping the Raiders' running backs. We've focused on them in practice and in meetings. They are marked men by our defense. We have to know where they are on every play, and we can't let them get rolling on Sunday."

Suggs discussed the controversy he sparked during the radio interview with Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

"The thing he's told me is his thought in his mind, he wasn't talking about money," Harbaugh said. "He was very clearly talking about the fact that you've got certain guys that you need to stop and certain guys you need to look at that are physical players or good players or whatever. I think his meaning was real clear in the thing, and, hopefully, that's been cleared up."

However, former Ravens coach Brian Billick confirmed that there are actually bounties involving Baltimore and the 31 other NFL teams.

"Every team does it," Billick said on the Dan Patrick Show. "Now, to go out and talk publicly about it is about as foolish a thing as I've ever heard. It's one of those 'Don't ask, don't tell' things. You know it goes on."

Billick had previously adamantly denied that the Ravens had placed bounties, but is now acknowledging that players do exchange money as an incentive for big hits and impact plays.

That is against NFL rules, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: "The rule is this: Clubs, players, and all club employees are prohibited from offering or paying bonuses to a player for his or his team's performance against a particular team, a particular opposing player or players, or a particular group of an opposing team, or for on-field misconduct, such as personal fouls to or injuries inflicted on opposing players."

Meanwhile, Harbaugh denied having any knowledge of bounties with the Ravens or during his time as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"No, absolutely not," Harbaugh said. "It's not something that I've ever seen in 10 years with the NFL."

Suggs is known for his fun-loving, playful personality and for making jokes during interviews. And the Ravens have no apparent intentions to muzzle him.

"He and I have talked off and on, here and there, and that's come up, but it's not really a sit-down where we say, 'You need to act this way,' or, 'You need to behave a certain way,'" Harbaugh said. "You know, he's a grown man. He's playful, he's excitable and he loves football. So, I think he takes some of it with a grain of salt.

"One thing I learned from [Eagles coach] Andy Reid, he's got a sign behind his desk. It says, 'Don't judge.' People have different styles, different approaches, and different ways of saying things. If you understand where a guy is coming from in his heart, that's the most important thing."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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