When it comes to leaping into controversies, Cris Carter seldom shows hesitation. In fact Carter might be a little too eager to lend his voice to these various debates. But that’s okay because, when Cris Carter talks…it might not always make a ton of sense, but it’s usually entertaining.
Carter’s take on bounties is certainly entertaining, and I suppose it makes its own kind of sense. First off, Carter admits that he indeed put bounties on other players when he was in the league. But Carter insists he never used bounties as a means of injuring the opposition for the sake of competitive advantage. For him it was all about protection.
“I’m guilty of [bounties] — I mean, first time I’ve ever admitted it — but I put a bounty on guys before,” Carter told Mike & Mike. “I put bounties on guys. If a guy tries to take me out, a guy takes a cheap shot on me? I put a bounty on him right now!”
Carter elaborated on his pay-for-protection approach. “I’d tell one of them guards, ‘Hey man, this dude is after me, man,'” the former Viking said.”Listen, on the football field, you only got certain protection, and your teammates are part of that protection. It’s built in, and if I’m playing a certain position where I can’t protect myself — how can the quarterback protect himself? But for his teammates to stand up and do something. There are certain positions you can’t protect yourself.
“The center? How can he protect himself? He’s snapping the ball every time. Like if someone is taking a cheap shot on him? No problem. We’ve got a way to work that out.”
Carter gave one specific example of his bounty approach involving a guy well-known for being a crazy man who wanted to hurt people. “Bill Romanowski — he told me he was going to take me out before the game, warm-ups. No problem. [He said,] ‘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 says he wasn’t the only one resorting to such practices. But Carter insists, “You have to realize the league we grew up in, the bounty was based on protection, or a big hit, excitement or for helping your team win. It wasn’t to maim or hurt the dude. When a guy said he was going to hurt me, my recourse was to put a bounty on him to make sure.”
Clearly Carter does not support the bounty system set up by Gregg Williams and implemented against the Vikings among other teams. His idea of a bounty system was more informal and more about preemptive self-defense against roid-raging lunatics like Bill Romanowski. Some may see this as splitting hairs, but I think there is an important distinction between the Williams form of bounties and the Carter form.
The larger point is that bounties have obviously been a part of the NFL for a long time and in the minds of some players are just an accepted part of the game. Roger Goodell would like to change this culture of financially-induced over-the-top violence (as opposed to the normal violence that’s inherent to the game), in part to protect his own league against image hits and legal attacks. Whatever you think of bounties from an ethical point of view, it’s obvious that for the league to continue forward, they must be left by the wayside.