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Woodley believes NFL contracts have bounties

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley wasn't surprised to learn about the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" program, but don't count him among the masses chastising Who Dat Nation for its sins.

Asked by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport if he could spot the difference between teams with pay-for-performance systems and teams without, Woodley reasoned it's difficult since NFL contracts offer their own rewards for aggressive play.

Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley has an interesting take on what
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley has an interesting take on what "bounty" systems truly mean. (Alix Drawec/NFL.com)

"If you think about it, when you say there's an extra incentive, the "bounty," that's like people having incentives in their contract," said Woodley, a five-year veteran with Pittsburgh. "You get a certain amount of sacks, you get an extra bonus. Is that considered a bounty?

"You're still going to go out there to make the plays in order to get some extra money. Is that putting that much more pressure to go out there and want to hit a quarterback because you know you have a $100,000 bonus coming if you do this?"

Woodley isn't sure the line is as definitive as others seem to think. Football is a violent and aggressive game. It's punish or be punished.

"When I'm going to hit the quarterback, I'm not thinking, 'I should hit this guy soft.' I'm thinking, 'I'm about to take this dude down to the ground,' " he said. "With a running back going through the hole, he's trying to lay a hit on you. I think everybody is out there trying to lay a hit on somebody."

The Steelers always will have a place in the story of the NFL's aggressive push to improve on-field safety (do "The Steelers Rules" ring a bell?). Woodley was around for all of that, and he plays in the same linebacker group with James Harrison, an eternal lightning rod in the debate.

But while Harrison essentially dared the NFL to throw the book at the Saints, Woodley comes off as someone who's unsure this should have ever been an issue at all.

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