INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese said there weren't bounties on quarterbacks in his day because back in the 1970s, knockout attempts were so routine they didn't merit extra payment.
"Everybody would try to get the quarterbacks out of the game back then," Griese said. "They weren't getting paid for it. They would just try to knock you out."
The NFL recently punished the New Orleans Saints heavily for running a bounty program that paid players to injure opponents. Before being honored with a Thomas A. Brady, M.D., Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, Griese said the notch in the belt for a hard hit was enough for defensive players.
"In today's game, these defensive ends come around, if they've got a blind shot at you, they're not going to try to hit you in the back and try to take you out of the game, they're going to slap the ball out of your hand," the Hall of Famer said. "Back then, Deacon Jones was coming, Ben Davidson was coming, all those guys. They were saying 'I got (Joe) Namath last week, I got Griese this week."'
Now, the former Purdue University quarterback says the game is safer.
"The game has evolved and the rules have changed," he said. "It's what people want. It's because the rules have changed and they are protecting the quarterback. You don't want your quarterback knocked out. You want him in there every week, all season long, so you're not watching some third-string guy wishing you had Peyton Manning in there."
That undefeated season still brings back fond memories for Griese. The New England Patriots nearly went undefeated in the 2007 season. Griese remembers watching the New York Giants' Super Bowl-winning touchdown drive that kept the Dolphins alone in the record books.
"When he (Plaxico Burress) caught that touchdown pass in the end zone, there was still some time left on the clock," he said. "I'm sitting at home, watching in my office, and phone starts ringing, the e-mails start coming in. I said wait, there's still 35, 40 seconds left."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press