Offensive and defensive players look at the Saints’ ‘bounty fund’ very differently

Maggie Hendricks

News of the New Orleans Saints' "bounty fund" made its way around the league quickly. Players became aware that they were targeted for bounties, and that their injury might have resulted in a payout of $1,000 or more to a Saints player.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett realized that there might have been a payout because of his injury. Bennett was hit in the chest by Roman Harper in the Saints' Week 2 win over the Bears. He left the game after one reception and missed five more because of the injury. When a Twitter follower pointed out to Bennett that he was a victim of the bounty, Bennett replied, "SMH," which is short for "Shaking my head."

Chris Harris, a safety who was still playing for the Bears when Bennett was injured, was not surprised by the story. He tweeted, "Doesn't surprise me. Everyone does it they're just the ones who got caught. It's part of the NFL culture." He added that it's more common than people would think, but he knows nothing.

[ Cole: Price for Saints' bounty program should be heavy ]

The two different opinions on the same story by former teammates shows the different understanding offensive and defensive players have of hard, sometimes injurious hits. For an offensive player like Bennett, Harper's hit kept him out of several games. He was not able to help his team or rack up receptions as he did in previous seasons.

For Harris, hard, offense-disrupting hits are part of the game and the goal of the defense. He added, "Football is a violent game and just because someone is hit very hard doesn't mean it's malicious." What Harris is missing is when a defensive player is paid to injure another player, it fits the definition of malicious.

The dominoes from this investigation will continue to fall, but if any good comes from it, offensive and defensive players may get a better understanding of how their counterparts play the game.

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