A biography of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre was released this past week, and mixed in with the life story of the ol’ gunslinger is a story that has raised some eyebrows around Vikings fan nation.
In the book, written by Jeff Pearlman, former Minnesota Vikings’ offensive lineman Artis Hicks claims that the 2009 Vikings had a “bounty system” in place that was similar to that of the team that cheated their way to the Super Bowl in that same season, the New Orleans Saints. According to Pearlman, Hicks said such a system was “part of the culture” and that the Vikings’ coaches “had coaches start a pot and all the veterans put in an extra $100, $200, and if you hurt someone special, you get the money.”
If that’s the case, it would certainly appear to be news to people that would have actually been involved in this sort of thing, such as defensive end Brian Robison. Robison, along with Chad Greenway, are the only defensive players remaining on the roster from that 2009 team. Based on what he told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he doesn’t seem to have any idea what Hicks is talking about.
“I haven’t heard of any bounty program since I’ve been here,” said Robison, a 10-year veteran with the Vikings. “I’m very unaware of a bounty program. … If Artis wants to say stuff like that, obviously he’s trying to bring attention on him. … I really have no clue what he’s talking about.”
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“I was very surprised,” Robison said. “Basically, the first thing I said in the car with my wife was, ‘What the hell?’ So it was very shocking to me.”
Also denying the existence of such a system was former Vikings’ linebacker Ben Leber:
“To refute the rumor, I never heard of any bounty program existing within Vikings locker room,” Leber wrote on Twitter. “We had incentives for big plays, not injuries.”
As well as the man who coached that team, Brad Childress, who is now a member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ coaching staff.
I’m primarily here to answer questions about the Colts, but I understand there is a statement out there about the Minnesota Vikings. I had a great opportunity to coach a lot of great people there, including Artis Hicks. I have too much respect for the Wilf family and professional football to have anything to do with a bounty system. With that, I’ll take your questions on the Colts.
I’m not sure what’s brought this forth from Hicks, who rode the bench for that 2009 team, but it seems an odd time to bring it out. But, again, it doesn’t appear that anyone that would have been involved in such a system has any knowledge of such a thing.
The Saints’ bounty program, if you’ll remember, was pretty well-established at numerous levels of the organization. The primary culprit appears to have been then-Saints defensive coordinator and current human colostomy bag Gregg Williams, who continues to encourage cheap shots by his players to this day. It was also signed off on by head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis. All three of those men got suspended for varying lengths of time by the NFL for their involvement.
Frankly, as a fan of the Vikings, I would more than welcome an investigation by the league into Hicks’ allegations. If they can prove anything, then hey. . .good on them. The odds are pretty good that they wouldn’t, however. Maybe, in light of this story, Hicks will explain what he’s talking about, but I’m not sure if I’d hold my breath on that front, either.