Although I consider being a retired NFL player of 14 seasons a badge of honor, I'm first and foremost a child of the 80s. I grew up discovering BMX, Golden Age hip hop and the Star Wars saga. And my favorite character from those movies? Boba Fett, the helmeted hired gun and bounty hunter who was charged with capturing whoever's head held the highest price.
My kinda guy.
So this scandal involving the Saints and their "bounty" system -- or as those less prone to violence call it a "pay for play" system -- is making my childhood and adulthood intersect in a way I never though it would.
Now, let me get this out of the way first. ALL TEAMS DO IT. It's true. What the Saints have done is as old and biblical as Cain and Abel. It's so common, in fact, that when I heard about it, I yawned, took a nap, woke up, then remembered how many thousands I stuffed into the pockets of the guys who weren't paid like I was for making big plays. Plays like causing fumbles or interceptions.
So, really the "bounty" myself and most NFL players participated in weren't much different than any you might hear on an elementary school playground. Think "I'll give you one dollar if you pick up that dog
poop with your hands," and you're in the ballpark.
When you're 9 years old, that's the equivalent of getting a sack on fourth down. Big play. But what the Saints were doing was more along the lines of "I'll give you one dollar if you pick up that dog poop with your hands, eat it, and rub the rest on Trudy's backpack while throwing dirt in the bus driver's face." Case and point? A simple wager gone WAY too far.
The reports about the Saints offering $10,000 for knockouts and hits that made players leave the game, especially players the likes of Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, are along the lines of what the great Boba Fett did in the Empire Strikes Back -- bring in the guy worth the money. And that completely falls in line with what my old defensive line coach used to say: "One percent of the players (QBs) make 90 percent of the money." So, in essence, Gregg Williams -- the Saints defensive coordinator who allegedly orchestrated all of this -- found it necessary to play the role of Boba Fett and bring those guys in.
And that he did, not by his own hand, but by sending his goons to do his bidding. But that's where the awesome comparison ends. Because unlike Gregg Williams, Fett didn't have his goons do it. He did it himself.
Now, I don't think many people find it that appalling that there were guys paid a little extra to hurt other players. The sport of pro football is a violent one with grown men being paid a king's ransom for a kid's game. And honestly, knocking somebody silly is what we're all paid to do in the first place.
So the number of broken bones, concussions, tears, rips and contusions that are done by way of something within the rules of the game far exceeds those done with malicious intent. I can assure you that you can't hurt a guy wearing a helmet with your fist. I've tried.
But at the end of the day it wasn't the action that got the Saints and Gregg Williams in trouble, it was the intent. And the fact that Williams and the Saints were keeping detailed records of this with
15,000 pages of documents just makes this weird in a way I can't fathom. Which makes me think that Coach Williams really did believe he was a bounty hunter doing what a bounty hunter does.
But I have a message for him.
"Coach, I watched Boba Fett, I was a fan of Boba Fett, Boba Fett was a hero of mine. Coach, you're no Boba Fett."
Trevor Pryce, a two-time Super Bowl champion, is a reporter and analyst for News4.