Darren Sharper Gives An Insider's View of 'Bountygate'

Our fine friends at the nola.com SAINTSFANZONECENTRAL!! page posted a transcript of an interview Darren Sharper gave with our other fine friends at the NFL Network last night.

You've got three guesses to figure out what the topic of discussion was, and the first two don't count (especially if you already read the headline).

Join me on the other side for the nitty and gritty of it all...

When asked if he ever received extra money for hurting member of an opposing team?

"No, never for hurting a member of the opposite team. But that year, 2009, the amount of plays that I made that year, best believe I got some money off my teammates for making interceptions and scoring touchdowns."

OK, so while he didn't actually receive a bounty for injuring someone, he did get bounty payouts for big plays, that's still a violation of league rules. I guess that's better than deliberately hurting someone for money, but he's not saying others weren't paid for knocking people out of games.

Did he ever put money into a pot that ultimately went toward players who did hurt members of opposing team?

"No, no. And the thing about that situation is that it doesn't make any sense to me that they're saying there was a bounty put on hurting guys during a game. Because the math doesn't make sense. The amount that you would get fined for taking a cheap shot at a guy exponentially is higher than what the amount of money that a bounty could be from a $500 bounty to a couple hundred dollar bounty. So that doesn't make sense at all to me to say that guys would go out there to intentionally hurt guys. Because they're going to hurt themselves and their career, hurt their own pockets. And guys knew that. Especially the ones I was playing with with the Saints because when Commissioner Goodell came in, the amount of fines increased so much that guys were scared to go out there and play real football. So no one put a bounty in for hurting guys. It was all about if you make the first interception in this game or if you make a sack, guys in the locker room would say, 'OK, well put a couple hundred dollars here, a couple hundred dollars there for making a great play.'"

"the math doesn't make sense." OK, so aside from the fact that we were told there would be no math, he's denying that he paid money into a bounty for hurting others, and then saying it wouldn't make sense to do it when the penalties are much higher than what one would earn from the bounty payout. You know what, Darren? Football players do plenty of things that don't make sense, hell, all people do things that don't make sense from time to time. You're not exactly making me feel better about this situation...yet. And then you do come right out and reiterate what you said previously about a "good play bounty" plan in place. So maybe I do feel a little better now.

So when Gregg Williams apologized, what is he referring to?

"He's referring to us being in the meeting room and stand up and saying, 'OK, the first guy that makes an interception in this game, the first guy that causes a fumble in this game, the first guy that scores a touchdown. Defensive backs, how much are you going to pay that guy that makes that play?' And just the fact that Gregg was the overseer, he was the moderator, he was the guy in the room as the coach that could have controlled that and knowing that, OK, this is against league rules, that we should just cut this out. ... but that was just for making big plays in the game. And that was somehtingt (sic) that happened since I came into the league since 1997, when I came into the league with the Green Bay Packers. It happened since the beginning of time."

He's really sticking to his story (we had a "big play" bounty fund, not a "hurt others" bounty fund) throughout all three questions so far. Is this a sign of it being the truth, perhaps?

Is there something for Williams to apologize for?

"Yeah, especially with the league now, with Commissioner Goodell saying he doesn't want any of that, even if it's a dollar ... that's what I believe he's the most apologetic about, because he knew that was happening."

OK, so GW's apologizing only for a "big play but not hurting others" bounty fund program. Do you buy this?

Did Vilma have a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre?

"I was in no way aware of that, and I would like to have seen that happen. But nowadays I would like to grab that $10,000 and ran up out of the room. So you best believe that no one was throwing $10,000 on the table and was putting for a bounty ona guy. I do not recollect that happening at all."

This one's quite ripe for all kinds of misconstruing...you would liked to have seen a $10,000 bounty put on Favre? Really, Darren? But you weren't aware of it and you don't recollect it happening. Fair enough. So it's he said, he said. I wonder what the evidence is that's behind this contention about Vilma.

Are you concerned it will tarnish what the team accomplished?

"Yeah, that's what I'm most disappointed about is that a guy that was in the room or that was a part of that team is coming out and trying to tarnish what we were a part of that year. Because the style of football we played was a tough, hard-nosed brand of football. Something that's really changing these days in the NFL. And that's what I'm most disappointed about is that someone would come out and try to bring down what we accomplished. ... it appalls me, it upsets me, and I would like to find out who that guy is. Maybe I'd put a hat on and take a shot at him."

This is kind of a stupid question, but I find it interesting that Sharper focuses on the "there's a rat" aspect, and then talks about taking a shot at said "rat". Isn't that the kind of thinking that got the Saints in this jackpot in the first place? Hooo, boy!

* * *

I know it was just an NFL Network interview, and not done by a hard-hitting investigative team, but what do you think of this interview? What questions should they have asked D-Sharp? Do you feel better or worse about 'Bountygate' after reading this interview? Those are a lot of conversation starters, so we should easily hit 100 comments by 10:00 am EST - am I right?

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