Friday, July 20, 2012
Updated: July 21, 4:28 AM ET
Alex Smith torn about bounty scandal
ESPN.com news services
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said Friday he has "mixed emotions" about the bounty program that targeted him during last season's NFC playoffs.
Before his final game as New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams offered cash to the player who struck Smith in the head.
"Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head," an audio recording captured Williams saying.
"Never heard a speech like it before," Smith told ESPN's Ed Werder at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe. "As a QB, I expect defenses to go after me. I expect it in the confines of the rules, no question, but if a guy's got an open hit on me, I plan for them to give me everything they've got. I have mixed emotions. As a QB, I feel like every defense is out to get me. I think a lot of QBs feel the same way. We all just want to play within the rules."
The Saints were found to have operated a bounty system in which players were paid bonuses for, among other things, hard hits and deliberately injuring opposing players. Williams was suspended indefinitely for his role in the scandal.
Between 22 and 27 Saints players participated in the program, the NFL found.
Smith said he felt being the target of the bounty was "a little flattering."
"Like I said, this is a physical game; that's why we all love it," Smith said. "It's a little weird when you start talking about injuries and going after injuries. You want to play physical, but within the rules. Rules have changed, not always black and white, tough to comment on."