During the 2009 NFC Championship, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre’s relationship with the turf was more romantic than any interaction he had ever had with a former New York Jets reporter. Thanks to the New Orleans Saints defense, Favre left the building that Sunday feeling like he just participated in a demolition derby rather than a football game.
Later in 2012, an investigation by the NFL revealed that the Saints were guilty of conducting a bounty program that rewarded players with money for injuring opposing players. The findings resulted in New Orleans losing draft picks, being ordered to pay a $500,000 fine, and a number of coaches, players, and other members of the organization getting handed suspensions.
The news may have brought a bit of closure to Vikings fans who remained upset about the 2009 loss to the Saints. For others, the feelings about the game may have become even worse knowing that New Orleans had to stoop so low in order to defeat Minnesota and get to the Super Bowl.
Little did Vikings fans know, the team that they rooted for each year had their very own bounty program set up in 2009.
Deadspin recently published an excerpt from a new book about Brett Favre titled ‘Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre’ by Jeff Pearlman. In the book, a former Minnesota offensive lineman revealed that the Vikings also provided a monetary incentive for their players to physically injure their opponents.
It was part of the culture, I had coaches start a pot and all the veterans put in an extra $100, $200, and if you hurt someone special, you get the money. There was a bottom line, and I think we all bought in: you’re there to win, and if taking out the other team’s best player helps you win, hey, it’s nothing personal. Just business.
So could the fact that the Vikings failed to reach the Super Bowl in 2009 actually have been a result of karma? Figures that a strategy Minnesota apparently used for their own defense during the regular season was used by the Saints to knock them out of the playoffs.
The latest news should not come as a shock to most of the NFL’s die hard fans as a number of teams have been found to have their own version of a bounty program during the league’s recent history. It is just the latest instance to support the fact that professional sports teams and players will do everything and anything in order to achieve a goal when there are millions of dollars at stake.
Sadly, until the risk proves to be worse than the reward, this is how professional sports will continue to function.