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NFL: Trivial Pursuit - The "Bounty" Edition

Placing a bounty on injuring players? Believe it or not, that may just be the tip of a very large ice berg. What I can't seem to get my mind around is how this bounty system may have worked?

I've read players put money into a pool to reward a player who accomplishes anything from a fumble recovery, interception...Decapitation... But what were the rules? Who held the money? Who acted as "Pay for Pain" commissioner? Maybe it was run like a Fantasy Football league. Teams hold a draft every game and pick players who are off their medication for a day or two?

"Yeah, I pick Ray Lewis for a $1000. A bird just crapped on his Mercedes in the stadium parking lot, so he's gonna' make someone pay!"

"Hey, I'll take Jonathan Vilma for $1500. His wife burnt the meatloaf last night, and..."

It could be that a shopping list of "game time events" is posted in the locker room, with different prices on each item?

Trash talk in Latin: $8

Kick opponent in crotch: $141.50

Flick booger at the Center before the snap: $275.00

Cause internal bleeding (opponent only): $500

Break a bone that has anything to do with the word -"Lumbar": $1500

Kill 'em deader than dead: Priceless

Forget reality TV, the NFL is the real "Survivor"...

What gives me a queasy feeling though is something that came to mind as I read the accounts of the different "Bounty" events. The thing is, what if all the money pooled together was done as a bet, or wager? Think about it...

The guys in a NFL locker room are flush with money. They brag that they will do this, and a teammate counters he will do more. They bet. The money is committed, and after the game, the one who accomplishes the task collects his winnings, or they get their money back if they don't succeed. Now write this on a larger scale. Let's say a player says he's going to bet anyone $10,000 that he will put the opposing team's quarterback on his back during the game. No one wants to take the entire bet, so a number of players cough up a $1000 here, $2000 there to cover the bet. The game ends, and the money is paid out to whoever wins.

This is the scenario that, if it is the way all this transpired, should scare the daylights out of every fan, team owner and player. Why? Because the word - Gambling - will be heard. If in fact players "Bet" on injuries, and not just paid bonuses or a "bounty", this entire mess is going to go Super Nova.

Yes, this is pure speculation on my part. But for the life of me I can't see how such large amounts of players could have found inclusion in what would have to be a quietly held coach to player request? Think about the statement made that Williams contributed cash at times. Isn't it just as likely that he bet players if they could do this or that?

I know that basic "bounty" programs have existed, with coaches making lists of player they would like to see out of a game so their team can win. The Buddy Ryan-s of the world have been around at every level of football. I remember Pop Warner coaches of mine that rewarded me for leveling a player in a game by letting me out of wind sprints at practice. Say what you want, but it the same thing as the "Bounty" scandal we are talking about now, relatively speaking anyway.

In Major League Baseball, pitchers have been told to throw at batters. The penalty for throwing a rock hard object 100 mph at a defenseless cranium? The Umpire screams "You're outta here!" The pitcher feigns ignorance, walks to the dugout where he gets a few slaps on his back as he heads into the clubhouse for "Miller Time".

In Soccer, they trip people. In Rugby, they "Ruck" people. In the NBA, they elbow, or take the legs out from under people. In Curling, they make them play on thin ice or the dreaded "Broom to the face"...

I'm not saying that this was all inevitable. Mason Cooley once wrote: "Events are inevitable only after they've occurred". We see a transition to what has happened as some kind of implied evolution - "It happens all the time"...

Now players are coming out of the woodwork to say this "Bounty" thing is nothing new - getting caught is? There will be the NFL's version of Macbeth, Goodell's sound and fury signifying nothing. Someone will pay the price for the sins of many. In this, Gregg Williams is a safe bet...