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Rough-and-tumble AFC North decries bounties

The AFC North.

Known for its nastiness and age-old rivalries and topped off with a dangerous dose of in-fighting. The Steelers hate the Ravens. The Ravens hate the Steelers. The Bengals claw for position and everyone pounds on the Browns.

One thing you will not find in this division, according to its coaches, is anything resembling the bounty program that brought down the Saints.

It's not something Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has even talked about with his staff: "I never felt like I had to because I think our coaches already understood," Lewis told ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley this week from the NFL Annual Meeting.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is tight with Saints coach Sean Payton, but believes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has done what's right: "I think he's a great coach and he'll be back winning a bunch of football games. But I respect what the league did, I respect what Roger did. I think it sends a message. It's smart, it's courageous and it's the right thing to do."

The Browns find themselves touched by the bounty penalties in relation to Scott Fujita, the former Saints linebacker who awaits league ruling on player penalties, but coach Pat Shurmur emphasized that nothing remotely close to what the Saints fostered exists in Cleveland. 

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin joined the party, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "It's not something that's been a part of our culture in any situation I've been in. I don't know what generates that kind of atmosphere."

Coaches around the league find themselves in an awkward place, expressing friendship and respect for Payton -- it's a tight fraternity -- while actively separating themselves from the drama and voicing admiration for Goodell's mega-hammer drop that can still be heard above The Big Easy.

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