Suggs draws a bounty of scrutiny

The Baltimore Sun

It was about three weeks ago when Terrell Suggs said NFL officials look at the Ravens more closely than other teams.

Well, if the officials didn't do this before, Suggs has certainly given them reason to do so.

The NFL is "aggressively" investigating Suggs' recent comments on an Atlanta sports talk show that the Ravens had a "bounty" on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and running back Rashard Mendenhall (who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Ravens).

Suggs' remarks might have done more damage nationally to the Ravens than anything Chris McAlister did.

The Ravens already have a bad reputation from Suggs' face-to-face confrontation in Detroit to Bart Scott throwing an official's flag against the New England Patriots.

First-year coach John Harbaugh is trying hard to do an image makeover on the Ravens, but this could take longer than anyone expected.

"Bountygate" comes at a time when the Ravens were limiting their troublesome mistakes on the field. In fact, the Ravens are only the ninth-most-penalized team in the NFL.

But the Ravens can't ever seem to stay on that track. They are always doing their best to wrestle the title of Bad Boys of the NFL away from the Oakland Raiders.

Suggs has tried to backtrack from his remarks, saying there was not a bounty. He tried to clarify his comments by saying the Ravens would just be "alert" the next time they play Ward.

But Brian Billick, who coached the Ravens for the previous nine seasons, confirmed there are bounties on the team.

"Every team does it," Billick said on the Dan Patrick Show. "Now, to go out and talk publicly about it is about as foolish a thing as I've ever heard."

Billick, who previously denied there were bounties on the Ravens in 2001, now is saying that money routinely changes hands among players for great plays and big hits, which is against NFL rules.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said: "The rule is this: Clubs, players, and all club employees are prohibited from offering or paying bonuses to a player for his or his team's performance against a particular team, a particular opposing player or players, or a particular group of an opposing team, or for on-field misconduct, such as personal fouls to or injuries inflicted on opposing players."

Billick said he wasn't directly involved in any of the bounties.

"It's one of those 'Don't ask, don't tell' things," Billick said. "You know it goes on."


NFL leaders in penalties per game:

Team Pen.

Cleveland 8.5

Green Bay 8.2

Dallas 8.1

Oakland 8.1

Carolina 7.7

Team Pen.

Indianapolis 7.6

Arizona 7.5

San Francisco 7.5

Ravens 7.1

Minnesota 7.0

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