Saints defense ran bounty system, targeted Kurt Warner, Brett Favre

When Gregg Williams (pictured) took over as defensive coordinator of the Saints, the players and media raved about the new attitude he brought to the team. Williams ran a swarming defense that got after opposing players. Little did we know he was promoting a bounty system all those years.

An NFL investigation revealed that the Saints have operated a bounty program the past three seasons — all since Williams became their defensive coordinator. As part of the bounty program, players were rewarded for knocking opponents out of the game. According to the report, the program paid players $1,500 for a “knockout” and $1,000 for a “cart-off,” with payouts doubling or tripling during the playoffs.

The investigation says the Saints specifically targeted former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. Anyone who watched the NFC Championship Game between the Vikings and Saints could get that sense, and the pictures of the beat-up Favre support the findings.

Team owner Tom Benson reportedly directed GM Mickey Loomis to stop the system but was unsuccessful. Coach Sean Payton reportedly knew about the system but did not stop it.

Commissioner Roger Goodell notes that the system jeopardizes player safety and competitive integrity — two key components of the league. There are also specific rules against players being rewarded for injuring opponents.

The Saints will be penalized for the bounty program and could face fines, suspensions, and the loss of draft picks. Even though the job of defenses is to stop offenses, placing bounties on opposing players goes against the spirit, integrity, and sportsmanship aspects of the game.

Kurt Warner: Eli Manning is not a Hall of Famer yet

Many people feel that with Eli Manning is a Hall of Famer now that he’s won two Super Bowl two rings. Former Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP quarterback Kurt Warner says not so fast.

“I fully disagree with that,” Warner said during an interview with Burns & Gambo on Sports 620 in Phoenix. “I know we put a lot of weight on championships, and rightfully so. But championships are won as a team. I’m fully convinced of that. You never see one guy — a great player, great quarterback — carry a team through the playoffs and into a Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl that way. I’ve never seen it. You know even in that game [Super Bowl XLVI], it’s 21-17. That’s the game. There wasn’t a quarterback just up and down the field carrying the team.

“Yeah, he made the plays down the stretch, no question about it. He’s had two great playoff runs, or his team has had two great playoff runs. But I also look at the rest of his career. I mean, he has an 82 quarterback rating throughout his career. He’s had five of his eight seasons where he has thrown 16 interceptions or more. His completion percentage on his career is 58 percent.

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Tom Brady and Kurt Warner Agree Aaron Rodgers is Having Best QB Season Ever

The NFL has become a passing league.  As fans, we are well aware of that.  Records are going to be broken quite frequently with the emphasis on throwing the ball.  That being said, just because teams like to throw it doesn’t mean anyone should be able to do it as well as Aaron Rodgers.  When we watched Tom Brady dismantle the NFL back in 2007, it seemed as though no player would ever come close to duplicating his 50-touchdown, 8-interception performance.  Enter Rodgers, who is on pace to come awfully close to matching Brady’s touchdown mark while breaking a few records of his own.

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Kurt Warner: Toning Down Jesus Talk Would be More Effective for Tim Tebow

Kurt Warner was known as one of the most religious players in the NFL when he played. One of his most notable moments was when he won the Super Bowl and bellowed “Thank you Jesus!” As Christ-focused as he was, the former Rams and Cardinals quarterback quickly learned that constantly mentioning the Lord can be a turnoff for some people, so he made an adjustment.

“There’s almost a faith cliche, where (athletes) come out and say, ‘I want to thank my Lord and savior,'” Warner told the Arizona Republic. “As soon as you say that, the guard goes up, the walls go up, and I came to realize you have to be more strategic.”

Warner feels that’s a lesson Tim Tebow could benefit from.

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Ken Whisenhunt Was Offering Kurt Warner the Brett Favre Deal

The biggest story in the NFL last week was the announcement by Kurt Warner that he would retire, ending his 12-year career. With the way he played this past season — 3,753 yards, 26 touchdowns, a division title and a playoff game victory — it was a mild surprise to see him hang them up (the Bobby McCray hit says otherwise). One person sad to see Warner retire is Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt. As I was listening to Jim Rome’s show live from Radio Row, he had Yahoo! Sports writer Mike Silver on as a guest. Silver mentioned that Whisenhunt was dangling a Brett Favre deal on the table to try and entice Warner to return for another season:

“Basically, Coach Whisenhunt told me that if there’s anything you need to make this work, let me know,” Warner said. “He said, ‘I’m willing to adjust anything within reason to have you stay. If you need to take some time off, the whole offseason off, some of training camp, we’ll figure it out.’ A lot of times he would say it in passing, just sort of having some fun with me, but there was some truth in it.”

The reason I invoke Brett Favre is because #4 got to miss all of training camp before signing with the Vikings and getting picked up from the airport personally by coach Brad Childress. The only other reason I’ve heard of players missing training camp is injury or contract issues, not because the coach was allowing special privileges. I think Whisenhunt’s offer says a few things. One, it speaks to the high level Kurt Warner played at this past year because Whisenhunt knows the Cardinals are a playoff team and Super Bowl contender with Kurt as the quarterback. On a similar note, it also means Whisenhunt doesn’t have too much confidence in Matt Leinart — at least not for the upcoming season. Think about it — if Whisenhunt knew he had Aaron Rodgers in the wings, would he make that type of offer? I doubt it.

I also was critical of Kurt Warner’s Hall of Fame candidacy last year. After seeing the way he played in the Super Bowl last year, and seeing him throw for five touchdown against the Packers (in the playoffs) and Bears (in the regular season), I have changed my mind. Warner is an elite quarterback who has done many special things in the league, and his propensity to play his best in the postseason was incredible. Games like the one he had in week two against the Jags — 24-26 for 243 yards and two touchdowns — remind me that he was also one of the most accurate quarterbacks in history. Warner’s final season he may have cemented his Hall of Fame status for many people, but it also changed my mind.

The Hit that Ended Kurt Warner’s Career

Calling this play the “hit that ended Kurt Warner’s career” might be premature but it likely is the hit that ended Arizona’s season. As mentioned two weeks ago when Ole Miss played in the Cotton Bowl and Jevan Snead got crushed after a turnover, defensive players love interceptions because it gives them a chance to hit the opposing quarterback. Take the second quarter of the playoff game between the Cardinals and Saints when Kurt Warner was picked off by Will Smith. On the return, Kurt Warner was crushed by Bobby McCray. Check out the video:

Warner left the game with a chest injury and Matt Leinart took over from there. Warner reappeared after halftime but once the game got out of hand Leinart came back in. With all the talk last weekend that Kurt was considering retirement after the season, you have to wonder what he will do. It’s hard to envision him going out after a butt-whooping like that but taking hits like that might make him think twice.

Kurt Warner Actually Says God Told Him to Sign with Arizona

When I first called for the Cardinals to stop screwing around and get Kurt Warner signed already, we joked around that the lord had told him he deserved a raise and that he should use the 49ers for leverage. Well, turns out we weren’t too far from the truth. Check out this beauty that Warner unloaded in his press conference on Wednesday regarding his visit with the Niners and ultimate choice to re-sign with the Cardinals:

“[My family] didn’t want to close a door if God wanted it open. So that’s what we went into it with — ‘where does God want us, that’s where we’re going to be. No matter what the money is or what the situation, that’s where we want do be.’ Very early in the process in San Francisco, as many good things that are out there, I just knew very quickly that [Arizona] is where I was supposed to be. I told my wife probably 45 minutes into that I felt God say ‘you’re supposed to be in Arizona’.”

It’s really a shame that God didn’t tell Kurt to hold out for a few months until the Cardinals paid him what he was worth, because that’s really what would have been fair. Why was the lord siding with the cheapskate Bidwells on this one? Why didn’t God send the Bidwells a message in their sleep to pay Warner the fair amount of $29 million instead of $23 million? One other tidbit I’d like to add is that I’m pleased Warner called his agent and told the agent to get a deal done with the Cardinals, no playing games. A lot of players lose sight of the fact that the agents work for them and should do what the player tells them. Often times agents give players bad advice. Just see Ramirez, Manny.