Long before the football world was outraged by the reports that longtime NFL defensive coordinator Gregg Williams used a bounty system while with the Saints and Redskins, those Redskins, led by head coach George Allen, were targeting Cowboys’ quarterback Roger Staubach in a Thanksgiving Day game--the prize for taking Staubach out?
Former Redskins’ offensive lineman George Starke said in an interview on ESPN 980 Monday that in his experience, bounties were not an uncommon thing, though the prizes were not really aimed at hurting the opposing player.
“Knock him out? Of course,” Starke said, per the Washington Post. “You’ve got to knock them out. We’re paid to knock them out. Really, when I hear people talk about hurting someone, I’m thinking trying to hurt his knee or something like that. You’ve got to remember, it’s not until very recently that this whole brain stuff has come up, so really, I’m not sure today if the players today look at that the same. That’s a good question. But you have to understand, knocking someone out, it’s like being a boxer. Your job is to knock the guy out.”
However, when it came to the Redskins-Cowboys showdown back in 1974, the bounty system backfired, as Staubach’s backup Clint Longley--who hadn’t played a down in a regular season game to that point--came in and led the team to a comeback, 24-23 win over the ‘Skins.
“Yes, George Allen did in fact put a bounty on Roger Staubach of 200 bucks, and the bounty was to knock him out,” Starke said. “Not hurt him. Let’s be clear about that. Knock him out....We used call it drag-offs. Pete Wysocki named it drag-offs—if you hit him and knock him and he had to be drug off the field—and of course only defensive players think in those terms. That’s called a drag off. But just for irony, the only time George actually ever put a bounty on Roger Staubach happened to have been in the Thanksgiving game that Clint Longley came in and beat us. That was the only time.”
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