Say this ain't so. We already knew that NFL teams like the New Orleans Saints have placed bounties on opponents in the past and offered players money in exchange for hard hits. But, is this same practice being used in—gulp—Pop Warner?!
According to a recent report in the Orange County Register, yes. A couple of coaches who led their team to an undefeated season last year in Tustin, Calif. stand accused of putting bounties on the heads of their opponents and offering to reward 10 and 11-year-old kids with cold-hard cash for putting big hits on opposing players. And, although both coaches deny that they ever paid players for making big plays, the father of one of the players on the Tustin Red Cobras says that he witnessed the practice first-hand after a game last season.
"My son said he had won the prize," the anonymous dad told the Register. "He had a good, clean hit. The kids voted his play as the play of the game. He showed me one $20 bill. He said the coaches, plural, gave it to him."
The coaches in question—head coach Darren Crawford and assistant Richard Bowman—deny an wrongdoing and say that "disgruntled" parents are to blame for the scandal.
"It's amazing what disgruntled parents will put their kids through," Crawford said when asked about the "bounty" system that he'd put into place.
But, the Register spoke with six players and four parents for their story, and all of them confirmed that some type of bounty system was in place. So, what gives? Like we said, say this ain't so. For the sake of the future of the sport of football, we hope this is all just a big misunderstanding.
[via Larry Brown Sports]