Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Partial Transcript of My Interview with NFL Linebacker Brady Poppinga

Transcription of Brady Poppinga for offside edited1.mp3

Eric Macramalla - Recently you described the Saints bounty program as “degrading, animalistic and repulsive”.  Why did you make those statements.

Brady Poppinga - At the end of the day, this is about what the NFL stands for.  When you put that shield on your helmet and you wear that shield on your shirt, you’re committing to a higher standard of competing. It’s a physical game, but at the end of the day there is mutual respect amongst  the opponents and teams.

I just feel that bounty systems compromise that respect and that integrity, and when the public starts to think that these guys who are out there playing football are just hitting their heads up against each other, a bunch of dummies, idiots, you know, they’re just  a bunch of barbarians - it just does not take into account the reality of it’s players.

There’s a bunch of very intelligent guys that love to play a physical game and 95% of the guys play the right way. They play it physical, they play it fast, they play it fanatically and they play within the confines of the rules. I just feel like the bounty system doesn’t accurately reflect the reality of the overall general culture of the NFL football, and it compromises the integrity of the game.

EM: In your experience, how common are these types of bounties on teams.

BP – I think bounty programs are very rare in terms of something that is designed to intentionally inflict serious injury - and I’m not pain. I’m talking injury on your opponent and not pain. This is the only time ever I’ve heard of it. 

Is it possible that there are other forms of this? Yes - but there’s nothing concrete, such as this particular case – this bounty gate down in New Orleans with Greg Williams. 

And let me make it clear to everybody - I am in no way lashing out at Greg Williams personally. This has nothing to do with him as a person.  It has everything to do with the system that he implemented and I understand his intention was to try to motivate his team. It was designed to get his guys to play really hard, physical and violently - but like I said before, it crossed the boundaries and like I said before, it compromised the integrity of the game. 

EM – You’ve said that it crossed the line. Fans see football as an inherently violent sport.  Where is that line?

BP – It comes down to how you view your opponent.  Do you view your opponent with respect and dignity or do you not? There was a time in my life when I did not view my opponent with respect and dignity. I also played in a way without any kind of regard for their physical wellbeing and I threw in cheap shots and tried to hurt guys. There were experiences that, to be honest, brought the devil out inside of me and it came to the point that if I were to keep competing this way, then I’m pretty much going to become a lunatic and land in jail. I had to change my perspective and find a way to compete where I can come out of the experience enriched and benefited.

It’s a perspective issue. I felt like with Greg lost perspective when he implemented the system.

You can still go out and blast someone in the face as hard as you can and still respect.

I think 95 percent of the guys that I’ve played with in this league have that perspective – they understand the mutual respect that is shared on the football field, so I think it clearly comes down to perspective and how you treat the game. 

EM – If a player lacks that wisdom, is it incumbent on the coach to impose his wisdom and perspective on the player?

BP – Idealistically you would think so because the coaches in general are more seasoned, more experienced. I think most coaches have a very sound perspective on how to compete. If a fight breaks out in practice, the coaches are immediately stepping in and addressing the situation. Perspective needs to be reminded. For the most part, I think the coaches do bring that to the table and that is part of their job description.

EM – You are a free agent tomorrow. Are you concerned teams will shy away from you as a result of your statement?

BP – Why would they?

EM – Are you at all concerned?

BP – I have no concerns because I think teams want a guy that understands how to compete and that brings these types of intangibles to the table. That’s the kind of guy you want on our team.

Guys love playing with me because I give heart, I do it the right way, I’m not a timid guy. I am very passionate about the game. I play the game very physically. I’ll go and mix it up with the guys and at the end of the day we’ll come together and we are closer because of it.

So I think it’s going to be the opposite. If teams really did take this into consideration, they would probably be the more excited to bring me in because of the perspective that I would bring to that team.

EM – Drew recently said he didn’t know about the bounty program. Is it reasonable to believe that a quarterback would not know about such a program on his own team?

BP – I would say that could be very accurate because a lot of times what goes on in a defensive room or in an offensive meeting room, you’re not going to know about it.  For example, half of the stuff, well actually most of the stuff that goes on in an offensive meeting room defensive guys don’t know anything about. You’re not in that meeting because you’re so immersed in your own schemes and your not really concerned with the defence or anybody else’s position.

Brees is the kind of guy that’s so focused and immersed in his own job that anything else just doesn’t factor in. He is focused on the offence and setting up his game plan so he can go out and play a very good game. He would be wasting energy if he was trying to figure out what the defence was doing. So it doesn’t surprise me that he would say that.  I think that’s the case for most people - they are so focused on their own jobs that they don’t even know what’s going on on the other side of the ball.

EM – Brady thank you for joining us and speaking your mind.

BP – My pleasure man.

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