The realization was shocking to fans and the media, but it also seems to have struck a nerve with those who have played the game.
"Every football player that's ever played the game cringed when he said take out this man's ACL," Irvin said. "Every football player that has ever touched a football cringed when he heard that. And I said, 'Whoa, how do you come back from that?' "
Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, like Irvin an NFL Network analyst, believes the "bounty" scandal shows "our game, to some degree, has gotten a little out of hand."
"This is going to effect the longevity of our game," said Warner, who was on the receiving end of a vicious (but legal) block by Saints defensive end Bobby McCray during the final game of the quarterback's career. "We know it's the greatest game, the most popular game in our country, but then you start to think about parents and them getting their kids involved at a young age.
"When you start to hear about the intention of the players at the next level is to hurt players, to go after players, that they have bounty programs, that that intention really sticks, I believe parents (will contemplate) about getting their kids involved."