Reggie White Ran A League-Approved Bounty In 1996 Called “Smash For Cash”
16 years ago, when the NFL was in the dark about concussions (oh, wait, nothing has changed) and player safety wasn't a public relations priority, Packers' Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White ran a bounty program with his defensive teammates. The program, labeled "Smash For Cash," doled out cash for huge hits. Sound familiar?
"In its latest filing in the bounty case, a copy of which PFT has obtained, the NFLPA says that the NFL knew White was paying teammates for hits and allowed it to continue, and therefore is showing inconsistency now by suspending four players for a similar pay-for-performance program with the Saints.
First of all, let's all agree that "Smash For Cash" is a way better name than "Pay For Performance." That Reggie White was handing out cash left and right for big hits isn't the biggest of deals here - any football fan willing to examine the NFL outside of the league's PR-approved prism assumes that the Saints weren't alone in what they did. No, the bigger deal is that the NFL and the public knew about it, but no action was taken because none was deemed necessary.
From White himself in 1996, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (by way of the Associated Press):
"Packers defensive end Reggie White acknowledged yesterday that he doled out his entire paycheck to his teammates following last week's playoff victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
'I gave them money for big hits,' White said.
The smash-for-cash program depleted White's $13,000 game check in $500 increments, according to a report in Friday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel."
White even awarded himself $500 out of his own money for a hit on Steve Young. HE PLAYS FAIR. 75% of players had contributed to the pot, but when it ran dry, it was White and defensive end Sean Jones who kept it going.
But here's the best part, via Greg Aiello, NFL Spokesman:
"Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, said there was nothing wrong with what White did, likening it to a quarterback buying gifts for his offensive linemen."
So maybe it's a bit more violent than handing out cash for solid blocking, but still. And only $500? Kind of miserly, but our standards.
The NFL can claim that teams knew its stance on such programs had changed and therefore the precedent no longer matters, but no one's buying that flimsy flip-flopping. As Pro Football Talk notes, it's quite the convenient PR reversal for Mr. Goodell.
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