By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will meet with NFL officials today about reports that he organized a program that paid defensive players bonuses for big hits and injuries caused to the opposing team. The report comes at a time when the NFL is doing its best to limit head injuries to players.
Ray Didinger of Comcast Sportsnet, joined 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team on Monday to talk about some other issues that the payouts could bring, like the salary cap. “That’s a big part of it. That’s not the moral part of it, that’s the practical part of it,” Didinger said. “That’s unaccounted for money. Over tens of thousands of dollars were paid on this.”
It wasn’t just the NFL salary cap that missed the payouts, it was the government as well. “Now all of a sudden, players have been getting money under the table for years here, you’re going to get the IRS involved. How much undeclared income do we have here,” Didinger said.
Philadelphia is no stranger to bounties.
The practice goes back as far as the 50’s with the Eagles. Didinger said former Eagle Norm “Wildman” Willey told him a story in which he was paid extra for recording a sack. “In interviewing Norm, he said ‘oh yeah, I can tell you for sure it was 17, because we had a payment system with the team that every time you hit the quarterback, you got a hundred bucks. I got an envelope on Monday with $1700 in it.'” Sacks weren’t an official statistic at that time, but Willey recorded what would have been 17 of them in one game.
There’s the famous Buddy Ryan “Bounty Bowl,” where the head coach offered a bonus to whatever player knocked former Eagles kicker Luis Zendejas out of the game. “It was never all that fully investigated by the league. I mean the league kind of looked the other way and let it go away, ” Didinger said.
“I’m not surprised that it happened,” Didinger said about the Williams situation. “Because to some degree or another, a lot of it is out there. What surprises me about this, is number one, a member of the coaching staff actually ran this thing, created this thing, and controlled this thing, and orchestrated this thing.”
Listen to the entire interview with Ray Didinger:
The biggest difference between now and then, is that now, the players are talking about it. “The thing that surprised me most of all is that the code of silence has been broken here. Somehow, somebody along the line has laid out the whole case here,” Didinger said of the case the NFL has on Williams.
Didinger said he believes that Williams will be suspended for at least a year.