NBCSports.com reports that in the latest filing in the bounty case, the National Football League Players Association claims the National Football league knew that White paid his team mates for their hits and allowed it to continue. From the NFLPA standpoint it shows the inconsistency of the suspensions handed down by Roger Goodell for a similar pay-for performance program with the Saints.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the season, New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games, free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove for seven games and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Scott Fujita for three games.
The filing from the NFLPA in the bounty case discusses White’s “Smash for Cash” program, which included $500 payments for big hits. At the time, according to the NFLPA, the NFL said the program was OK “as long as players use their own money, amounts are not exorbitant and payments aren’t for illegal hits.”
The NFLPA says that the NFL’s rules haven’t changed since then, but the NFL’s public relations agenda has.
“The fact that the NFL has a different agenda today than in 1996 can’t change the unequivocal language of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws, which has never prohibited this behavior,” the NFLPA says in its filing.
White’s “Smash for Cash” program has not often been mention in connection with the Saints bounty case, his actions were no secret at the time. White’s bonuses were publicized, the New York Daily News ran a headline stating that he paid teammates, ESPN did a segment on White’s bonuses and the Associated Press ran an article on about White’s payout in January of 1996.
White is quoted as saying he handed out his entire $13,000 playoff bonus for a win over the 49ers to teammates.
“I gave them money for big hits,” White said. “I don’t know if the money is any more motivation, but I know I paid out a lot.”
The Associated Press article says that White had already told his teammates it would be the same deal for the next playoff game, against the Cowboys, and that an NFL spokesman said there was nothing wrong with what White did.
The NFL’s stance on that has changed in the last 16 years since White made those payouts and can be seen through the bounty gate suspensions handed down from Goodell.