Butler defends Saints
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Stampeders cornerback Quincy Butler spent parts of three NFL seasons on the Saints practice roster. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency file photo)
CALGARY - Just like the rest of the public, Quincy Butler was taken aback when news broke of the New Orleans Saints defence using a bounty program.
Over the parts of three NFL seasons (2008, 2010-11), Butler was on and off the Saints practice roster, never suiting up for a regular-season game but part of the defence as a defensive back.
Butler knew there was a incentive system in place with the Saints. He didn’t see it as being based on injuring opposition players.
“I was shocked,” Butler said about his feelings when the story broke. “I’m pretty sure a lot of America was shocked hearing what was going on and guys getting caught.”
During training camp with the Calgary Stampeders, Butler hasn’t had time to follow the Saints’ players plight recently.
On Monday, four players, including linebacker Jonathan Vilma, whose year suspension is the longest, had their appeals heard by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The other suspended players — Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita — all claimed there is no proof they participated in a program rewarding injuries to opponents, but the NFL revealed its evidence on Monday.
Butler didn’t see the injury side of it, but does remember there being rewards for certain plays, even on special teams.
“It’s like you run down on kickoff and the first guy down there gets $100,” said Butler, who is expected to start at halfback for the Stamps this season.
“It’s not like it was to hurt anybody. It was to bring the best out of your team. They are trying to go to the playoffs, go to the Super Bowl and dominate other teams getting there. You find little ways to try and motivate guys when they go out there.
“The rookies aren’t making millions of dollars. You tell them they get $1,000 for the first tackle or a sack on the quarterback, they will try to do it. It makes your team a lot whole lot better.
“I was there long enough to be part of the program. I don’t stand right or wrong on it. I was doing what I was told, going out and playing and having fun.
“A lot of it was just trying to get the guys motivated and to play with more intensity. Some coaches say some things and they get blown out of proportion. Some coaches just try to find different ways to turn the players’ motors on.”
The Saints coaches are the ones who were hit hardest by the NFL in terms of punishment for the bounty system.
Defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely, while head coach Sean Payton was given a year ban.
Since the bounty scandal broke, other instances of similar systems have been unearthed. Former CFL defensive lineman Adriano Belli said bounty programs are common in this league.
Butler said it’s not uncommon for players to arrange something between themselves, even with the Stampeders, but it’s never about injuries, only stats.
“We offer guys $5 from every other guy for the first one to get a pick,” Butler said. “It’s meant to motivate a bit and eventually it’s second nature to go after the ball.”
Through this entire story, Butler feels sorry for Vilma, who will lose a year in a sport where careers are short as it is.
“You always feel bad after seeing a great player get suspended over something he really didn’t have much control over,” Butler said.
“He grew up playing football and people are always encouraging you to get better. He’s the leader of that team, so it’s a big loss to them. Hopefully he can bounce back.”