Former Eagles and Vikings receiver Cris Carter admitted in an ESPN Radio interview on Tuesday that he put bounties on players during his time in the NFL. He said he placed bounties on some players as a matter of protection.
"Protect me. . . . Protect me from him. . . . Especially if he's playing a different position where I can't protect myself," Carter said. "I'd tell one of them guards, ‘Hey man, this dude is after me, man. Bill Romanowski.' He told me he's gonna me out before the game, in warmups. No problem. ‘I'm gonna end your career, Carter.' No problem. I put a little change on his head before the game. Protect myself, protect my family. That's the league that I grew up in."
Carter's statements are why some people, especially those who have been in the NFL, think the commissioner went too hard in his punishments of the players. Carter's words tell us that bounties have been going on in the league for quite some time -- there's a Wikipedia page dedicated to the 1989 "Bounty Bowl" -- and the Saints may not be that unique.
The NFL's investigation claims to have found Saints players who were purposefully trying to injure players -- "cart-offs" and "knockouts." The difference here, if there is one, is that Carter says his bounties were about "protection or a big hit, excitement or helping your team win, it wasn't to maim or hurt the dude."
Carter's situation is also different in that he wasn't repeatedly warned about bounties, as the Saints were. It's one thing to break the rules; it's another to repeatedly break the rules in the face of the law or, in this case, Roger Goodell.
Is there a difference between what Carter says he did and what the Saints are accused of doing? If it is, it's subtle.