Jabari Greer is stunned.
The New Orleans Saints' cornerback is dumbfounded by the punishment NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell levied on coach Sean Payton and the organization for the team's bounty program, and Greer is equally shocked that anybody would even question his involvement in such a scheme.
"Oh, wow. My goodness," Greer said Wednesday in an interview with WWL Saints Radio in New Orleans. "We were, as a team, obviously trying to encourage each other to give it everything we have, not only for ourselves but for our city. So to state it like was I involved in a scheme to try to go out there and maliciously hurt somebody, no, then you don't know me. ...
"We don't try to go out there and take another man's livelihood, how he provides for himself and his family. That's against the rules; that's against the code. But we do go out there and play hard, play fast, play a violent game, which we're commended for. And for people to turn around and condemn us for the same thing they commended us for, this is unreasonable. But it's life."
Payton was suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was hired this offseason by the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely. General manager Micky Loomis was banned for the first eight games next season, assistant coach Joe Vitt for six. The organization was also fined $500,000 and docked second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.
All of that doesn't sit well with Greer.
"I don't understand the intent of the judgment, but at the same time I know that, as a player on the defense, that our intent has been misunderstood," said Greer, who has spent the last three seasons in New Orleans. "I can't clarify this to everyone. There's hardened hearts out there, and they have their ideas about us. But I know our fan base hears me, and they know that our intent is pure."
Given the unprecedented punishment, does Greer anticipate the Saints altering how they play the game? It doesn't sound like it.
"When I hit you, I hit you with intent," Greer said. "I don't hit you to maybe ... I might hit you hard. No, no, I go out there, and I lay my body, my life on the line. ... That's how we play, and we're going to continue to play like that."