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Posted on Sat, May 19, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Bounty systems were part of the game, former Michigan center Steve Everitt says

By Kyle Meinke


Former Michigan and NFL lineman Steve Everitt talks during the WTKA Mott Takeover fundraising event. Everitt said bounties were not "prevalent" during his time in the NFL, but did surface in key moments.

Angela J. Cesere |

Former Michigan center Steve Everitt spent the better part of the 1990s in the NFL, and he'll admit it: Bounties were part of the game.

Everitt was a top-15 pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1993, and played the next seven seasons in the league. He said bounties were not "prevalent" during his era, but did surface in key moments.

"Without getting specific, there were definitely times (it happened) when you had a big game coming up, whether it was a big division rival or something," Everitt said Friday during WTKA's benefit for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"In the heat of the moment ... somebody would get fired up and get tired of watching someone make plays from the last time he played a team and someone would jump (in a team meeting) and be like, 'If so-and-so doesn't get any tackles, I got however much money.' That did happen."

Bounties have become a national talking point in recent weeks, after the NFL accused the New Orleans Saints of putting up thousands of dollars for hits that took out opposing teams' star players from 2009-11.

That includes $10,000 prizes for injuring Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2010 playoffs.

The NFL suspended coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the season. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the purported architect of the bounty system, is suspended indefinitely.

Three other players -- defensive end Will Smith, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove and linebacker Scott Fujita -- received shorter suspensions. They've each appealed their punishments, as has Vilma.

"For us down there, we're just moving like nothing happened," said former Michigan receiver Adrian Arrington, who has played for the Saints since declaring for the NFL in 2008. "In our facility, it doesn't really get talked about. It hasn't really affected any of us at all."

Arrington said he never knew of the Saints' bounty program because the offense and defense operate independently.

According to Everitt, the Saints aren't the only team that installed a pay-for-pain system. They've apparently been a part of the fabric of the game for years.

"I don't want to pass judgment on these guys from the Saints," he said. "I want to wait because who knows what actual specific information they have on these guys?"


Former Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, above, participates in the WTKA Mott Takeover.

Angela J. Cesere |

Heisman Trophy-winning cornerback Charles Woodson said the punishment for Vilma is stiff, but appropriate if the NFL wants to stem the creation of bounty programs.

He didn't always have that opinion, though.

"At first, I of course thought, 'Man, that's a pretty stiff penalty, to take away his whole season,'" Woodson said. "But the more you look at it, if you try to stop something, you try to send a message.

"I'm not going to say whether or not the commissioner (Roger Goodell) was right or wrong, but I think he's trying to figure out what works, and if that is something that's going on in the NFL, I can guarantee you guys are going to think twice about ever trying to put money on a guy's head."

Woodson, a 14-year NFL veteran who has played for the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers, said he's never heard talk of bounty systems in his locker rooms. He added he doesn't think they're needed, anyway, because the game is violent enough without them.

But they've clearly occurred, and the former Michigan players want them gutted from the NFL.

"I think you have to stomp out the fire before it gets too big," said Steve Hutchinson, a former Michigan All-American and seven-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman. "You know it went on.

"It's just like the elusive UFO everybody keeps talking about. You never see one, but you hear of it."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Sun, May 20, 2012 : 5:48 a.m.

I don't know if anyone remembers a Cardinal's game that was Warner's last game as a qb when received maybe one of the cheapest shots I have ever seen after throwing an interception. Wasn't that against the Saints ?


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Great article, thanks Kyle! One correction, "Woodson, a 14-year NFL veteran who WAS played for the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers, said he's never heard talk of bounty systems in his locker rooms." Should say, "Woodson, a 14-year NFL veteran who HAS played..." I'm not the grammar police, just pointing it out. Happy Saturday to all.

Scott Laux

Sat, May 19, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Susie Q, Interesting use of the ' to replace the "g" in saying (sayin'). I see that from time to time. Is that proper grammar? Poetic license? Just curious. Sorry- nothing to do with football.

Susie Q

Sat, May 19, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

It just SOUNDS like you're the grammar police. Just sayin' It may have been a typo rather than a grammatical error


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

What Everitt described is a quota system, not a bounty system. The only example mentioned is preventing a defensive player from making tackles, not focusing on someone's injury or knocking them out of the game. The article wrongly makes it sound like what the Saints did is commonplace.


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

I've always thought , there is the NFL game that I watch and interpret as I see it and then there is the game as it's really played and felt by the NFL players themselves you know, the subtle things on the field and behind closed doors. It is a violent game played by violent men at least violent men during game time. The game is played in a violent manner and sometimes in an unscrupulous manner because we the fans shell out the bucks to support it. I have never tried to sugar coat the possibilities of this kind of behavior described in this posting and discussed by Steve Everitt. Of course this kind of behavior goes on the very nature of the beast dictates this kind of behavior. I certainly don't condone it and I'd hate to be on the receiving end of a bounty but hey, you know, "what you don't know can't hurt you", or so I've been told.