Reporting Chuck Carroll
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Washington Redskins are being sued by former NFL linebacker Barrett Green in connection to an alleged bounty program run by then defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in 2004.
In the suit, which also names Williams and former tight end Robert Royal as defendants, Green claims a hits-for-cash program was responsible for a career-ending knee injury he suffered in 2004 during a game against the Redskins while playing for the New York Giants.
According to sports law expert Gabe Feldman the lawsuit states: “Redskins coaches directed their players to disregard criminal (and) civil laws, as well as NFL rules, to intentionally injure opponents.”
The Redskins declined to comment Monday on the lawsuit.
Royal is being sued for battery for a low hit to Green’s knee during a game on Dec. 5, 2004. Green, who started the game the following week, called the hit an “unusual, outrageous and an obvious cheap shot.”
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.
The NFL suspended Williams indefinitely in 2012 for his admitted role in a similar “pay for performance” bounty program that he orchestrated during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints.
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.
League officials opted not to penalize the franchise for any wrongdoing during his tenure in Washington.
The 54-year-old coach was reinstated by the league in February and hired by the Tennessee Titans as a senior assistant defensive coach shortly thereafter.
Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs hired Williams as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2004. He was fired following the 2007 season after interviewing multiple times for the head coaching position left vacant by Gibbs’ departure. The job was ultimately awarded to Jim Zorn.
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 publically 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.