New Orleans Saints

Stevie Johnson Thinks the Saints Bounty Program is Stupid

Two rather large stories dominated the NFL news cycle on Monday. First, the fallout continued from the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints. And second, teams had to work to get impending free agents under contract before the franchise tag deadline at 4:00 p.m. ET. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson was one of those players lucky enough to avoid the tag while signing a five-year contract worth about $35 million. When Stevie Johnson joined The Jim Rome Show, he was unsurprisingly candid about his new contract, but surprisingly candid about BountyGate. In addition to addressing his emotions over his new deal and his loyalty to Buffalo, as well as whether he ever considered leaving Western New York and if he can now remove a chip from his shoulder, Johnson shared his discomfort with the bounty program, voiced whether he thinks it encourages dirty play and relayed whether he’d ever experienced something like it as an NFL player.

On how he feels about his new contract:

“It feels good, it’s like a comfortable feeling, family wise. When we talk about on the field, it’s a peace of mind. You can go work without having to think about anything else. So overall it’s a comfortable feeling.”

On if he was starting to sweat it:

“Yeah, but it all worked out. At the end of the day I knew I wanted to be here in Buffalo. The people embrace me — they took me in back in ’08 and the organization believes in me. There were times when they could have gotten one of those guys in the organization so it’s a blessing, really.”

On why he’s happy to return to Buffalo, which isn’t always a popular destination for NFL players:

“Me personally, just because when I came out it took seven rounds, 224 picks, but they were the ones that made the pick. And it’s more me wanting to build here. You know, they’ve been to the playoffs and championships — what if we were that group to actually get that championship? So it’s a challenge, I love it. Like I said before, I’d rather build a dynasty than to join a dynasty. And I think here in Buffalo with this group of guys we’ve got a lot of good pieces and the organization’s doing a great job of trying to keep these guys and bring in guys. Who knows what’s going to happen in the next two years, maybe even next year. Gotta be optimistic about it, but I think we have a great group here and I think we can make some big turns in our future.”

On his loyalty to Buffalo:

“Yeah, like I said, when we first started off it was Buffalo that was riding with me, not any other team. And ultimately, this last season, we know how it came out: I was benched my last game after scoring a touchdown. Anybody else: ‘Oh my goodness, I’m outa here. Who benches somebody after scoring a touchdown?’ But it’s a respect factor. You know it’s a business and all, but it’s a respect factor — first of all with the coach, coach (Chan) Gailey, and then it goes down to (general manager Buddy) Nix and the entire organization. They weren’t benching me just to prove me to be wrong or something, it was just to get me better. And I think I realized that so it really didn’t matter what happened at that game, but it was gonna help out with my future with myself and this organization.”

On if it crossed his mind that Buffalo wasn’t the right place for him when he was benched after scoring a touchdown:

“To be honest, it did jump in my mind. And people were around. Me being from the San Francisco area, everybody’s talking about, ‘You need to be here, do this and do that. You were benched for this.’ You know what I’m saying? But they don’t know the relationship that I have, they don’t know what I see every day coming to practice. And just like when everybody’s saying the Bills should let me go, they don’t know the relationship that coach has with me. He sees me more than everybody else out there. See he may have been questioned on why they still have me or why they gave me this contract, but they just don’t know the everyday Stevie Johnson and so on and so forth with me and him.”

On if he can take that chip off his shoulder now that he’s been given a big contract:

“The chip is all the same, and I like it. It’s Doritos. It’s cool. But I don’t think it’s official until you win a Super Bowl or become some kind of MVP or something. Then I’ve arrived. MVP, I won a Super Bowl — that’s the highest of the high. Then you make that decision, like, OK, I can chill right now or let’s do it again. And I think there are some people that have the mentality, ‘I did this, I accomplished that, I can chill.’ And there’s other people that feel like, ‘OK, let’s do it again. Let’s see if we can do it again, it’s always a challenge. So I go by that whole “almost somebody” motto because, know matter what, there’s always work to do to be that somebody.”

On if Ryan Fitzpatrick’s big contract had an effect on his play last season:

“Honestly, I don’t think so. It was just something that happened during that time. Nobody could call it because nothing changed in Ryan. Nothing was different about him in the film room. Nothing (changed) in how he got at individual players on the team. It was all the same from like the first year he got the starting job. It just so happens it fell on a time when he ended up getting a contract and things ended up going south. So it’s unfortunate that he had to deal with that. But it’s behind him, it’s behind us. And now we move on to see what happens in this next season.”

On the Saints’ bounty program:

“I think it’s stupid, I don’t understand why would other players do that or even participate in something like that. We got in this league and this situation through blood, sweat and tears. We grind and worked our way to get in the position we’re in, and then you put out a bounty or a hit or whatever on somebody to injure them? For a game, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t like it at all — I kind of get frustrated thinking about it. Just because, c’mon, people got family and stuff, and you don’t need to be doing that for a ‘W’. If you lose, you lose. If you win, you win. But when you lose, you just get up and fight and we’ll see what happens the next week. But ain’t no need in putting out bounties on other players. That’s ridiculous.”

On if a bounty program encourages dirty play:

“Well, yeah. If somebody’s offering someone a huge amount of money to injure somebody, I mean, yeah. It’s been done so it’s encouraged somebody to play dirty. But I don’t like it at all, I just don’t understand. Players — even though you’re on different teams — we’re all still like a fraternity. It’s us as players. But you go out and put hits on other people it’s not cool.”

On if a bounty programs violate an unwritten code among players:

“It should be. But I mean, this is a physical game. Injuries happen, but if you’re on file known for paying somebody to injure someone, that’s something different. That’s something totally different. I really can’t believe that is happening, but you can’t put it past anybody these days.”

On if he’s seen anything like that, especially on special teams where players typically make less money:

“Well yeah, you say OK, for special teams — I know when I was playing special teams when I first went down there — we had (George Wilson), he was one of the top special-teams guys. Used to (say), first guy to get down to the end zone gets $100. Or first person to make a tackle within the 10 or inside the 20, you get $200 — something little like that. But he wasn’t saying anything like, ‘Oh, next person to injure this guy…”It’s not about that. You go make a play and a injury ends up happening, then it happens. That’s a part of the game. But telling somebody, ‘OK, you go injure this guy on this play then I’ll give you this much money,’ is weak to me.”

On if he’d have a problem with a bounty being placed on his head:

“Yeah I’d have a problem with it but what can I do about it? I still gotta go out there and try to perform, whether or not I know that they have money on my head to take me out. I still gotta perform, ya know.”

On if he ever figured he’d sign a contract like the one he signed Monday:

“I can say I thought about it, but I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even believe when I got, you know, $10,000, or my bonus, which ended up being like $30,000. I couldn’t believe that, but now signing this type of contract is unbelievable. I can’t believe it, but it’s happening so it’s good.”

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