It would appear the backslide reconciliation between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers is complete.
A biography of Favre – Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre – was released recently. The author, Jeff Pearlman, has a long history of writing biographies of sports legends – the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s, the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s, and Walter Payton, among others.
In his latest tome, a story claims that the Minnesota Vikings had a bounty system of their own that was in place even before the New Orleans Saints would make national news by having a system of payments in place for players who injured opponents.
As the story goes, in 2008, the Vikings coaching staff, at the time headed up by Brad Childress, felt that Packers linebacker Nick Barnett had gone the extra mile to try to hurt running back Adrian Peterson. As the teams prepared for a rematch, an unnamed coach is alleged to have offered $500 to anyone who could knock Barnett out of the game.
Vikings offensive lineman Artis Hicks was quoted in the book as saying that was part of the culture at the time, where veterans would throw money into a pot and the player who hurt the specified player collected the bounty.
Former linebacker Ben Leber, with the team from 2006-10, took to Twitter to refute any Vikings team-wide bounty being place on any player.
Former punter Chris Kluwe suggested that if it did happen, it could have been something a former coach said in an offensive line team meeting room, but he never heard any talk of it in a team setting. Leber agreed.
“100%. This most likely happened in an offensive meeting. If true, I’m confident this was a 1 time thing. Not team culture,” Leber tweeted.
As it turned out, Gregg Williams, a coach with a previous history of instructing players to take their hitting to the next level – whether within the rules or not – had a bounty system in New Orleans in 2009 that the NFL investigated and found to be verified.
The story relates the shock that the Favre family in attendance at the game witnessed that day during the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Some of Favre’s family left the game because it became obvious that the Saints defensive players were trying to take Favre out of action by any means necessary. Following the game, Favre’s wife was pleading with security to get to her husband. She was hysterical and needed to be calmed down by members of the Vikings traveling staff until she and her husband could be reunited.
The NFL came down on the Saints heavily because their bounty system was blatant and they got caught. Once it was exposed, it blew back on the organization and coaching staff, including the loss of draft picks and a one-year suspension of head coach Sean Payton.
When their bounty system hit the light of day, there was shock among outsiders, but the players themselves weren’t surprised.
The excerpt from the new book pointed out specific instances with the Vikings having a plan in place, but, unlike the Saints, there was no concrete proof that payments were made and the players involved are by and large long since gone from the NFL. The veteran unit that was the core of the 2009 Vikings team has gone their separate ways – only Peterson and Chad Greenway remain. Even the main offenders for the Saints – Payton, Williams and assistant head coach Joe Vitt – are all still in the game.
The current thinking is that the Bountygate scandal cleaned up the NFL from the kind of borderline criminal activity that took place in the Superdome in January 2010. But, when you have grown men hitting each other with bad intentions, the scenario always exists that a collection could be taken to pay the player who takes out the key player from the other team. The key now is just not getting caught.