LB: NFL made example of Saints

New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Shanle said the NFL has blown the bounty scandal out of proportion.

Shanle told the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Tuesday that the league wanted to make an example out of the Saints and discourage any similar "pay-for-performance" programs.

Shanle told the Times-Picayune the Saints had an incentive program, which included payouts between $500 and $1,000 for big hits and other key plays.

That included the much-publicized "cart-offs" and "knockouts." But Shanle told the Times-Picayune those specific terms came from "Gregg's language," a reference to former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended indefinitely for his role in the scandal. Shanle said the terms didn't insinuate intentionally injuring, or trying to injure, an opponent.

"I never saw any money for injuring somebody exchange hands," Shanle told the Times-Picayune. ...

"Gregg said crazy stuff," Shanle added. "If you take him literally, you're gonna be locked up. But he was the best motivator I've ever been around."

Shanle told the Times-Picayune that side bets are commonplace throughout the NFL, but that the Saints' program was perhaps the most organized he had seen. Shanle also said the program penalized players for penalties and other mental errors.

"There's been this picture painted that (Jonathan) Vilma was standing in front of the defense before every game picking out players to go after and offering money," Shanle told the Times-Picayune. "It was blown up to be something more than it is."