Eli Manning has heard all about the "Bounty-gate" scandal that is threatening to take down the Saints, and the Giants’ two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback,whose father, Archie, spent 11 of his 13 NFL seasons in New Orleans, sounds sickened by the entire situation.
"Obviously it is a big deal, what’s going on,” Eli Manning said Monday night, the New York Post reported.
"It’s not good for football and can’t be a part of football. I know [commissioner] Roger Goodell will do a good job figuring all this out and making sure this doesn’t happen again."
An NFL investigation has alleged that the Saints operated an extensive bounty system for the past three seasons, involving as many as 27 players, with former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as the ringleader. The most sinister accusation is that the Saints collected money to be awarded to players able to get opponents carted off the field with injuries.
Williams met with NFL investigators Monday in New York, but it was not clear what came out of the discussions. The league’s investigation is now expected to expand to include the other teams Williams has coached — he has served as defensive coordinator at Tennessee, Washington and Jacksonville and head coach at the Bills.
No prominent NFL players have come out and ripped into the Saints, until now. Manning, who grew up in New Orleans a big Saints fan, said he has been in meeting rooms and heard how coach Tom Coughlin instructs the Giants defense to get after opposing quarterbacks.
"I’m kind of sitting there and I say, ‘I know the opposing teams are saying the same thing about me,’" Manning said. "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 this game is about. I think we should have more respect for the game than that. It can’t be a part of football.”
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, who the Saints allegedly had a bounty on in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, did not share Manning’s viewpoint on the situation, telling Sports Illustrated he still had a lot of respect for Williams and the Saints players.
"I’m not pissed," Favre said. "It’s football. I don’t think anything less of those guys. I’m not going to make a big deal about it. In all honesty, there’s a bounty of some kind on you on every play."