Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz used to reward players with small gifts for hard hits as defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, but he said Tuesday there's "a big difference" between his old method and the bounty program employed by the New Orleans Saints.
"To put people out of the game, that's never been our experience," Schwartz, who discontinued the practice before joining the Lions, told the Detroit Free Press. "And like I said, I think more people focus more on the exception rather than the rule in the NFL."
As part of the Saints' sanctions handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season, while defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who had joined the St. Louis Rams this offseason, was suspended indefinitely.
Schwartz, who worked under Williams in Tennessee for two seasons as a defensive assistant, has not been accused of taking part in a bounty program, although former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said this month he believes the Titans had a bounty on Peyton Manning during Schwartz' tenure as defensive coordinator.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said he doesn't believe a bounty program exists in Detroit.
According to the Free Press, Schwartz compared his old incentive system to how colleges award helmet stickers for big plays. In Schwartz's case, it was big hits.
"I think the big hit is always going to be part of the game," Schwartz said. "But the intent is not to injure, the intent is to make a big hit within the rules. Like I said, nobody wants to get a penalty. That doesn't help anybody. It hurts your team rather than helps. But offensive players, the same thing as defensive players, everybody's trying to play a tough, physical game, and I don't think anybody needs any extra encouragement to be able to do that."