Suh, Lions players respond to recent bounty reports

Posted Mar 4, 2012

The NFL announced Friday that 22 to 27 Saints players took part in a bounty program from 2009-11 that was condoned by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The program included $1,000 payments to players for cart-off injuries and $1,500 for knockout hits.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will no doubt come down hard on Williams and the Saints in light of the league's increased emphasis on player safety in recent years.

A few Lions players have spoken out since the story went public, some expressing shock, while others, including reserve safety Chris Harris, were not being surprised at all by the allegations.

"I don't know how many teams are doing that or how common it is," Harris told the Free Press. "But it doesn't surprise me.

"I think that's been going on way longer than I've been in the league. Like I said, I think it's just part of the culture. It's something that's been going on forever. Not saying it's right, but that's from past cultures."

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, speaking to reporters in Phoenix where he was the grand marshall for Sunday's NASCAR race, said he's never taken part in such a program while a member of the Lions.

"It's unfortunate to hear these things come out," Suh said via the Charlotte Observer. "Me personally, I don't take part in those things and knowing my teammates and knowing my coaches, we wouldn't allow that.

"I understand it's a tough situation the commissioner has to deal with. As he has in the past, he's going to deal with it with a stiff hand. Hopefully, people can learn from the mistakes and make an example out of it."

Speaking to the Associated Press at a sports conference in Boston on Saturday, Lions defensive end Lawrence Jackson was a bit more dismayed that such a program could exist.

"In every locker room, it's posted clearly: No exceptions to the rule on bounties for hurting people," he said. "I just don't believe it's right, on a human level."

Tight end Tony Scheffler said he's heard of the program but always thought it was something that went on among players, never instituted by coaches or done under management's knowledge.

"There is a lot of stuff that goes on over the course of the season," he told the Associated Press. "There might be something that happened in the first meeting between teams and that brings attention to a certain guy, who might've cheap-shotted a teammate, and then there's an opportunity to get back at that guy.

"But as far as coaches putting a bounty on a guy, I've never seen it. I have heard of it. The nature of the game is so physical and a lot goes into game preparation each week and those game plans always include getting physical with the best players on the other team."

The Saints could be facing penalties ranging from fines and suspensions to the loss of draft picks.