WASHINGTON >> A former NFL player is suing the Washington Redskins and former assistant coach Gregg Williams, saying a career-ending knee injury is the result of a bounty program where Redskins coaches encouraged players to intentionally injure opponents.
Barrett Green, a linebacker who played for the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants between 2000 and 2005, says a career-ending knee injury during a game on Dec. 5, 2004 was the result of a bounty program and a “unusual, outrageous, and an obvious cheap shot.”
After leaving the Redskins and spending one season with Jacksonville, Williams became defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2009 and was considered the mastermind behind the bounty scandal that led to unprecedented sanctions from the NFL. He was suspended for one year by the league and is now a senior defensive assistant with the Tennessee Titans. The lawsuit also names former Redskins player Robert Royal, the tight end who hit Green.
Redskins coaches and players told The Associated Press in 2012 that Williams also offered cash rewards for big hits and other plays — a violation of NFL rules — when he was coaching Washington’s defense from 2004-07. But they differed on whether it was a true bounty scheme that targeted specific players. The NFL investigated Williams’ conduct with the Redskins and with other teams where he had coached, but he was sanctioned only for his actions while with the Saints.
The Redskins declined to comment Monday on the lawsuit.
Green was playing for the Giants when he first injured the knee Oct. 31, 2004 in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. He missed nearly a month then returned to play in three more games, including Dec. 5 against the Redskins. The lawsuit says Royal “intentionally lowered his helmet and dove into” Green’s knees “at full speed.” Green had to be helped off the field, and the lawsuit claims the alleged bounty program would have rewarded the hit as “either a ‘knockout’ or a ‘cart off.'”
Even though Royal lined up as a tight end on the play, which happened in the third quarter, the lawsuit says he also played defense occasionally and therefore would have been coached by Williams.
Green played in one more game after the injury and later underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL. Green did play in one game with the Giants in 2005 but was cut at the end of the season. He tried to latch on with the Houston Texans in 2006 but was cut before the start of the regular season. He now lives in Miami.
At the time of the injury, Green was in the first year of a five-year contract worth more than $13 million, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the injury cost Green approximately $10 million in lost wages from the contract as well as millions of dollars in future salary and benefits.
Green initially filed his lawsuit in May in state court in Maryland. It has since been moved to federal court in Greenbelt, Md., where it was listed Friday. A lawyer for Green, Michael McAllister, declined to comment Monday, as did the Titans. A message left for Royal through his foundation was not immediately returned.
AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Washington and Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.