METAIRIE, La. – Saints linebacker Scott Shanle provided insight Tuesday into what the NFL labeled as a rogue bounty program but was more of a pay-for-performance program that, though against the rules, didn't deserve the level of vilification the team earned.
Shanle described a program that rewarded players for big, but legal, hits while punished players for missed assignments and mental errors. Never did money change hands for hits on a specific player, Shanle said.
The biggest shame of the investigation, Shanle said, is that a few people are taking the fall, their legacies and reputations being tarnished.
“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 said. “It was blown up to be something more than it is.”
The NFL alleges that the Saints ran a three-year program in which opponents were targeted, one that doled out $500 for and $1,000 for “knockouts” and “cart-offs,” language Shanle said could be found in then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ lexicon.
However, Williams’ rough language was more hot air than legitimate instructions, the linebacker said. Still, Shanle called Williams the best motivator he has played for in his 10-year NFL career.
“Gregg said crazy stuff,” Shanle told a group of reporters Tuesday. “If you take him literally, you’re gonna be locked up. But he was the best motivator I’ve ever been around.”