Former pro football player Artis Hicks talks bounties in NFL
JACKSON, Tenn. — A book released this week focusing on the illustrious career of Brett Favre got extra attention due to a quote from one of Favre’s former teammates in Minnesota.
Jackson Central-Merry graduate and former NFL lineman Artis Hicks was quoted saying, “If you hurt someone special, you get the money” — something the NFL doesn’t take to well after they came down hard on the New Orleans Saints for their malicious hits on Favre in a playoff game.
Their coach, Sean Peyton, and defensive coordinator Greg Williams were suspended one year, and the team got docked two second-round draft picks.
The league has since tried hard to clean up their image and take the brutal hits to the head away from the game. But that doesn’t change how the NFL used to be.
“If it would have been any other 31 teams, it wouldn’t surprise me,” Hicks said. “Because it was part of the NFL culture, you know, no different than anything else that goes on behind closed doors, and people got to understand is that this is professional football, not golf.”
Hicks went on to say they didn’t want to end a player’s career or necessarily injure them, but anything they could do to win the ball game, they would do. He said players would put money into a pot and whoever took the other team’s star out, they’d take home the cash — sometimes up to $4,000. He said this was done without coaches knowing at times, as these deals took place behind closed doors.
Hicks said it didn’t have to be a team’s star. It could be someone who took a cheap shot on their star the game before, or someone who got the best of you the last time they played. He called it retaliation.
“This was part of the culture, you know. Winning is the bottom line, and a lot of times it’s at all costs,” Hicks said.
Some may not agree with how things used to work, but Hicks has something to say about that as well — “Nice guys don’t play in the NFL long.”
He too had to worry about being on someone’s to-get list, as he described a situation where he made a legal hit against a Rams defender that ended their season. The next time the two faced off, he was gunning for Hicks — but he knew that was coming.
“It’s all fun and games,” Hicks said. “It comes with the territory. It only heightens your sense of awareness and just get your head on a swivel and go about your business.”
Throughout the interview, Hicks never gave any details as to which team he played on that participated in bounties, but Vikings officials made a statement saying “there is no truth to it.”
Former Vikings head coach and now Chiefs coach Brad Childress addressed the issue Thursday.
“I had a great opportunity to coach a lot of great people there, including Artis Hicks, at the Minnesota Vikings,” Childress said, according to an article by ESPN staff writer Mike Triplett. “I have too much respect for the Wilf family [and] professional football to have anything to do with a bounty system. I’m going to let that stand.”