In the week since the NFL revealed the New Orleans Saints' three-year bounty program for knocking out opposing players, the 2009 NFC Championship Game has received the vast amount of attention. The beating Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre absorbed from the Saints has rightfully drawn great scrutiny, but we're learning that Favre is not the only NFC North quarterback who might have been a target of the program.
Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that NFL investigators reviewed an email sent to Saints coach Sean Payton from marketing agent Mike Ornstein in which Ornstein pledged money for a "knockout blow" against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the teams' 2011 season-opening game at Lambeau Field. The Packers won the game 42-34.
A source told Duncan that Orenstein's email was made in jest, and Payton told investigators that he didn't read the email. We're still learning the scope and methods of this program, so take those claims for what you will.
Rodgers was sacked twice and hit a total of five times, according to the official NFL play-by-play, while throwing for 312 yards and finishing with a passer rating of 132.1. My digital copy of that game has disappeared, so if anyone wants to take a second look at the hits Rodgers took in that game, by all means do so and let us know what you find in the comments section below.