PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - NFL coaches plan to go right at the league's most sensitive subject - bounties - when they get together with players next month.
Although a few shied away from commenting at owners meetings this week about the New Orleans Saints' extra payments, under which players were rewarded for big hits on specific opponents, most coaches said it's an important subject to address - with the media and with their players.
"The commissioner wants the entire league to make sure it's discussed - to go forward using it as an example, to stress there is no place for that in our league."
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for all of the 2012 season after the league investigated that team's bounties. Goodell also ordered every principal owner and head coach in the league to certify in writing that their team does not have any sort of pay-for-performance system.
Several coaches echoed Coughlin, hoping they only will need to bring it up once with their players. Clubs will gather for workouts in mid-April.
"It's definitely necessary to mention it," said Ron Rivera, whose Carolina Panthers play the Saints twice a year in the NFC South. "The precedent has been set by the commissioner and they need to understand that and it is not to be broached again. Going forward, we won't have to go over these things again."
Payton's former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, is barred indefinitely for overseeing the system. Williams was hired as defensive coordinator in St. Louis earlier this year.
"It was part of the game-ball program. It wasn't part of anything else," Schwartz said. "A recognition system has been in effect for football since pee wee ball. We give out game balls. We give out trophies at the end of the season for all different things. A lot of colleges give out stickers on helmets; high schools give out stickers on helmets. There's a big difference between things like that and things like bounties."
Schwartz noted that it's not unheard of for QBs to buy gifts for their linemen, or for running backs to do the same if they have a big season.
"That would all receive very good press," he said. "I think what this shows is how fine some of the lines are and how easy it is to go from something like that that's been around and has been part of football to something that should never be part of football and is not good for our game."
The NFL sent lead counsel Jeff Pash and security director Jeffrey Miller to New Orleans to speak with the Saints about the bounties one day before they hosted Detroit in a wild-card game in January. The league officials told owner Tom Benson to make sure no bounty system still was in place.
"Other than we got beat twice?" he said. "They were physical games but I don't recall them drawing any penalties. We were the only ones drawing penalties (in Week 13). I don't recall anything that the guys thought was extra."
"It is a physical game and there are rules we must play by," Smith said. "As coaches, it is important we make sure we coach to that."
"That talk has been around, but for us, it's not something that we've engaged in," Tomlin said. "We've always been somewhat amused by it. Not that it's amusing, of course."
Seattle coach Pete Carroll spent 15 years working in the NFL before going to Southern California for nine hugely successful seasons in college football. He returned to the pros in 2010.
He misses the aura that surrounded some players with a tough-guy image, but recognized that times change.
"The lore of the players that were unique - there's not a place for that in a way," he said. "Those of us who are the old-school guys, we miss that. We miss the uniqueness of the tough guys and the way that they were able to demonstrate that. But now, it just doesn't fit."
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story.