Former Falcons linebacker Coy Wire, who orchestrated the team’s offseason program last year during the lockout, said the team does not have a bounty program.
Wire made the statement to the Buffalo News while discussing the bounty program that was in place with the Bills under Gregg Williams.
He also played for Mike Mularkey and Dick Jauron in Buffalo and said that neither coach had a bounty system.
During his tenure as defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, Williams rewarded players for big plays and also for knocking players out of games, the NFL announced on Friday. Williams, who was recently hired as the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, admitted to the allegations and apologized in a statement.
In addition to Wire’s claims that the Bills’ had a bounty system, The Washington Post, reported that Williams had a bounty system in place while he was the Redskins defensive coordinator.
Williams was Buffalo’s head coach from 2001 through 2003. Wire was selected in the third round (97th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft and said the program was in place when he arrived.
Wire, 6-0, 225 pounds, compiled 206 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and six passes defensed in nine NFL seasons between the Bills and Falcons. He was released by the Falcons in September.
Here’s what Wire told The Buffalo News.
During his time as Buffalo Bills head coach, Gregg Williams promoted cash bonuses for delivering hits that seriously injured opponents, former safety Coy Wire told The Buffalo News.
“There was financial compensation,” Wire said.
Three other defensive players from that era, speaking to The News on condition of anonymity, confirmed that a bounty system existed during Williams’ time with the Bills. Two of those players said cash bonuses were paid for “knockout shots” that sent opponents out of games.
A 2001 Stanford graduate with a sociology degree, Wire is a tireless reader with deeply held religious beliefs. His academic pursuits, coupled with a life-threatening neck injury in 2007, have led him to study the powers of the mind.
He was selected by his teammates for the Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2009 for being an inspiration to the squad.
Wire has been working on book, “Change Your Mind: 10 Unconventional Secrets to Retrain Your Brain” which is scheduled to be released this month.
With the league emphasizing player-safety, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to deliver a severe punishment to the Saints.
Wire believes that would be a nice start.
“Goodell has to make an example of this,” Wire said. “All that we know now with brain trauma and head injuries, this isn’t just taking players out of a game. Significant changes have to be made to protect our players. A precedent has to be set now; otherwise, [Goodell] condones it.
“Things have to change. Football will always be football. There will be big hits. I’m saying there’s no need to ruin the livelihood of another man and cause harm to his family and children. That malicious intent doesn’t need to be a part of the way we play.”
The Falcons and the Saints have been bitter rivals since both teams entered the league in the late 1960s as expansion teams.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog