CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said it's "very disappointing" to learn the New Orleans Saints placed bounties on his team's franchise quarterback, Cam Newton, as well as other players around the league.
"Obviously you don't like to see anything like that," Hurney said. "I think anybody can imagine how you feel -- whether it's your starting quarterback or any of your players (being targeted). Player safety is the number one issue in the league right now."
The Saints were hit hard by the NFL on Wednesday as commissioner Roger Goodell suspended coach Sean Payton for the entire season, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and stripped Carolina's NFC South rival on two second-round draft picks. There were also fines involved.
When Gross first heard the news that Newton was a target, he said, "The first thing I would say is that it shows how good Cam is -- that he makes your list of top four quarterbacks to go after. But I think the bounty thing is completely unprofessional. I'm happy the league has made it known it won't be tolerated."
In hindsight, Gross said he was not surprised by the Saints' actions.
Harper was flagged on the play for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"A lot of times they were extra shovey or you could say even a little bit dirty," Gross said. "I guess when you look back on it and start connecting the dots it doesn't surprise me."
Newton, who was shooting a Gatorade commercial at the Rose Bowl, told the Los Angeles Times last week that the Saints' bounty program caught him by surprise.
"If I'm a running back, if I'm a receiver, if I'm a linebacker, if I'm a D-tackle, you always have to respect that other person's career because they're feeding families just like I'm trying to feed my parents," Newton told the Los Angeles Times. "And if you take those joints, those ligaments away by taking a cheap shot, it's bigger than one, little `Yes, we took down their starting quarterback.' This quarterback can't even throw no more because you took a late hit on him. Yeah, it's 15 yards. But you're limiting this guy's whole career."
In two games against Carolina last season Saints defensive linemen were flagged for three personal fouls for hits on Newton.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press