Eli Manning has become the first prominent NFL player to publicly speak out against the Bounty-gate scandal threatening to take down his hometown team— the New Orleans Saints.
The New York Giants quarterback is no stranger when it comes to the violence in the NFL— he has memories of his father Archie get knocked around for 11 seasons in New Orleans and has taken his share of licks himself— but from the sounds of it, Manning is sickened by the suggestion of placing bounties on NFL player's heads and ripped into the Saints if they did it.
"Obviously, it's a big deal, what's going on," said Manning before the premiere screening of the Giants official championship video, "Super Bowl XLVI Champions: New York Giants" at a Times Square theater last night. "It's not good for football and can't be a part of football. I know [commissioner] Roger Goodell will do a good job of figuring all this out and making sure this doesn't happen again."
The two time Super Bowl MVP— who grew up in New Orleans— went on to say he has heard his own head coach Tom Coughlin instruct the Giants defense to go after opposing quarterbacks in team meetings.
"I'm kind of sitting there and I say, 'I know the opposing teams are saying the same thing about me,'" said Manning. But when you start talking about injuring a guy and carting him off and trying to end his season or career, that's not what the game is about. I think we should have more respect for the game than that. It can't be a part of football."
The Giants were hammered by the Saints, 49-24, on Nov. 28 in New Orleans but Manning said he can't recall any specific foul hits on himself, so he can't say if their defensive coordinator Gregg Williams actually put a bounty on him.
Williams has been accused of collecting money to be awarded to players able to get opposing players carted off the field with injuries.
There was one vicious hit by safety Isa Abdul-Quddus in the third quarter that knocked Hakeem Nicks out of the game with a rib contusion. Abdul-Quddus got a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless player. Nicks returned to game but looks at the hit differently now.
"It's just part of the game,' said Nicks at the screening. "He got a good shot on me. It wasn't the last time I got hit that hard. I took one in the Super Bowl too. You can't be too scared to get hit."
Asked if he thought it was a cheap attempt to injure him Nicks responded," The way he was celebrating you would probably think that regardless."
Giants safety Antrel Rolle echoed his teammate's sentiments but insisted the Giants have no bounty system and said if the accusations against the Saints are true, the tactics are "not good character."