We’re on the first page of what appears to be a new chapter in Bounty Gate. That’s because the NFLPA has pulled a new club out of the bag in its fight to defend the New Orleans Saints players involved in the scandal, filing papers in federal court last week that showed the NFL permitting an informal incentive program that sounds at least mildly similar to the one that allegedly took place in New Orleans. Former Green Bay Packers star LeRoy Butler joined The Big Show on 1250 WSSP in Milwaukee to discuss the “Smash for Cash” program from his days in Green Bay.
On the Packers allegedly running an incentive program .
“I never got a check. I’m going to go to the mailbox when I get home … maybe I’ve got a check sitting there. I never got a check for anything. I think here’s the problem with a lot of that … if Reggie White wanted to give away his own money, it’s fine with me, but I never heard of him ever giving away money to anybody. I think he was, on the record, asked about it, but you know Reggie, he’s a giving person. You used to have guys on the practice squad or guys who didn’t always get the full share. He would always give guys money all the time, not just this particular year, or this particular playoff game. So I never heard anything as far as Reggie giving his money to anybody. I’m not really sure in what context this story has been taken out of.”
On his belief that the league was OK with what Reggie White and the Packers were doing at the time:
“What I do remember was when we made big plays, interceptions or if you do hit a guy clean and it is a big play, asking the league, ‘Is it all right for us to give our money to our teammates?’ And, oh yeah. Yeah. It’s the same as a quarterback taking his guys out to dinner or buying them big-screen TVs, computers and things of that nature. But that was widely talked about, and the league, I remember at that time, because it wasn’t talking about a specific injury … it wasn’t like a bounty. It was almost like an incentive program. If I’m giving my own money to a guy, is there anything wrong with that? And the league said, ‘Hey, that’s fine. It’s your money.’”
Further explaining the program:
“The league knew about it. And it was called to their attention, ‘Oh yeah, it’s your money.’ … The problem is I don’t want people to think that it was like a violent thing — go after Steve Young’s arm for $5,000 or go after Jerry Rice’s knee for $2,000, things of that nature. But if you came up and smacked a guy and he fumbles the ball and you pick it up, if a guy wanted to give you some money, the league [said] everything’s fine. And this was 15, 16 years ago. Everything was fine. Now, it’s like you throw in the word bounty. ‘Oh we’ve never heard of that before, that’s crazy.’”
On never having actually seen money change hands:
“I hope the fans understand this, when you play in the playoffs, your salary is reduced way down. You don’t get your full salary. That’s over with after the 17th week. The playoffs, for some guys, especially Reggie, is almost a pay cut. So he said, ‘Well, you go out and make some big plays and big hits or whatever, you can get some money.’ I’ve never seen him give nobody money for that — it was always talked about.”