Did Saints go after Jets players in '09?

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
6:09
PM ET
Friday's bombshell story about the Saints' "bounty" program triggered a thought about the Jets-Saints game in 2009. After all, that was the first year the Saints started paying players for deliberately trying to injure opponents, according to the NFL's findings.

After checking through notes and reviewing the official play-by-play of the game, no suspicious hits jumped out. If the Saints tried to take Mark Sanchez out of the game, they failed.

Saints DBs Tracy Porter and Darren Sharper committed personal-foul penalties, but there wasn't any indication of malice. Jets OT Damien Woody suffered an ankle injury early in the game and was forced to leave in the third quarter, but I checked with Woody Friday and he didn't recall any cheap shots.

According to the NFL, payments were made for plays such as interceptions and fumble recoveries. In that case, the bounty hunters made a killing against the Jets. Sanchez was intercepted three times (one returned for a touchdown) and he also lost a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown.

The Saints' program also included "bounty" payments for "cart-offs," meaning that the opposing player was carried off the field, and "knockouts," meaning that the opposing player was not able to return.
It paid players $1,500 for a "knockout" and $1,000 for a "cart-off," with payouts doubling or tripling during the playoffs.

This is serious stuff. Look for the Saints, including former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, to get hit with major sanctions.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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