Coy Wire: Players, Not Coaches, Ran Bills' Bounty System

The story of Gregg Williams and his bounty system has not become any clearer since the news broke a week ago. In fact, the reports pertaining to Williams' time as the Buffalo Bills' head coach have grown murkier since Coy Wire became the first ex-Bill to admit to knowledge of a payment system.

Wire told The Buffalo News last weekend that an environment of "malicious intent" existed when he arrived in Buffalo prior to Williams' second season as coach. He also admitted that players were rewarded for knocking opponents from the game, as well as for other big plays.

"There were rewards," said Wire. "There never was a point where cash was handed out in front of the team. But surely, you were going to be rewarded. When somebody made a big hit that hurt an opponent, it was commended and encouraged."

What Wire failed to mention last weekend was that the players were the ones leading the bounty system, and not coaches. Instead, he was content to let Williams take the heat in an already hot situation for the current St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator.

John Wawrow of the Associated Press published new comments from Wire yesterday which paint a much different picture of a "pay-for-play pool," as Wire call it.

"It wasn’t a whole team thing. It was just some guys that took things too far," Wire told Wawrow by phone Thursday. "We rewarded each other for that, and that was wrong. That was crossing the line."

Wire insisted to Wawrow that the system was player-driven, and Williams was not involved. That coincides with comments from Phil Hansen, who said a player-driven bounty system was in place all the way back to when Marv Levy coached the Bills.

"What happened in Buffalo was nowhere close to what has been discussed in New Orleans," Wire told Wawrow. "The players got the pot and dished out the pot. Never at any point did coach Williams or any other coach stand up and put a bounty on any particular player."

Wire also noted that there were two distinct pools of money involving defensive players. One was a general pool for big plays like sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles. Another smaller group would ante up money each week for hurting opposing players.

"There was no set amount, it just depended on the pot, and depended on the game," Wire said.

There has been no word on the punishment for Williams or the New Orleans Saints. The NFL could be talking to current and former members of the Bills and Washington Redskins for information beyond the scope of the initial report, which was limited to Williams' time as the Saints defensive coordinator.

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