The New Orleans Saints find themselves involved in a major scandal after the NFL uncovered a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opposing players.
But this isn't the first time that the league has investigated a team for targeting opposing players for profit. In October 2008, linebacker Terrell Suggs told an Atlanta radio station that the Ravens had "a bounty" -- yes, he used that word -- on wide receiver Hines Ward and running back Rashard Mendenhall.
His comments about a bounty seemed valid because it came after Mendenhall sustained a season-ending shoulder injury on a hit by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Suggs later clarified his remarks, explaining the Ravens were merely planning to keep a close eye on certain players.
"There wasn't any bounty," Suggs said in 2008. "He [the talk show host] asked me if there was a bounty and I just said I'm going to keep a watch on the guy. He [Ward] broke some guy's jaw last week, and he tried to cheap-shot JJ [Jarret Johnson]. He has also cheap-shotted Ed Reed. We're just going to be on alert the next time we play him."
All the NFL did was send Suggs a letter informing him that any further comments or on-field activity indicating his participation in bounty activity could result in "significant disciplinary action."
So, did the Ravens have bounties out on the Steelers? No one can say for sure without any proof. But Suggs knows the definition of "bounty." For him to use that word, it makes this a legitimate question.
Ward first heard of the Ravens having a bounty on him back in January 2002. According to Ward that year, a Ravens player would be rewarded if he could knock out either one on a crossing route. And, if the Ravens were going to put a bounty on someone, you know they would place Ward at the top of that list.
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who is scheduled to be a free agent after playing for the Ravens from 2003 to 2011, told a Baltimore radio station on Saturday that he was unaware of the Ravens ever using a bounty system during his time in the organization.
“I don’t know exactly what [the Saints] were doing,” Johnson said. “In my opinion, in my experience in the NFL, the things you hear about bounties get blown out of proportion."
Johnson was asked if he got extra money for the hard hit he laid on Ward this past season. “I’m sure there were a lot of people that wanted to pay me for it," Johnson said. "But no, I didn’t get paid."