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NFL bounties amount to incentive system run amok

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 5 2012 5:31 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2007 file photo, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Byron Leftwich, top, screams in pain as he is bent backwards and injured on a sack by the New Orleans Saints during the third quarter of an NFL game in New Orleans. Now that the NFL has uncovered a big-money bounty program for players in New Orleans, it likely will zero in on other teams Gregg Williams worked for. That means the Titans, Redskins, Jaguars and Bills probably should all expect to hear from the league soon.

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Curtis Compton, File) GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT, MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL OUT, Associated Press

To Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, the thousands of dollars New Orleans Saints players were paid under their bounty system is not all that different from the helmet stickers he got as a 10-year-old.

Extra rewards are as much a part of football as runs and passes.

Lott says that in the pros he "got paid to make big hits," but not to "take away somebody's livelihood." Still, he tells the AP, he isn't surprised that the NFL's investigation found an elaborate bonus pool in New Orleans.

Think of it as an incentive system run amok.

University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson compares it to extra payments in other lines of work, saying the biggest difference is that in the NFL "it involves a little more pain and suffering."

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