So far, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been on an unstoppable tear. Heading into Week 8, the rookie phenom is the league’s second leading rusher with 703 yards, averaging over 5 yards a carry and scoring 5 touchdowns.
So how do the Eagles stop him? NFL Network analyst and former Eagles offensive lineman Brian Baldinger said if he were defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he’d put a bounty on the star running back.
"This is the guy that that we've got to hurt," Baldinger said Friday on 97.5 The Fanatic. "This is the guy that we've got to take out of the game. There's got to be 10 guys that want to hurt him every single play. In fact, we may even put a little bounty on Ezekiel Elliott. Let’s get to [backup] Alfred Morris."
Baldiner also echoed former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, suspended over a year for his role in “Bountygate,” who was fond of the phrase, “Kill the head and the body will die.”
“You want to cut off the head to kill the body, that’s the guy you’ve got to get to,” Baldinger said, adding that the rookie running back was arrogant for showing up to the draft wearing a belly shirt with a tuxedo collar.
“If I’m Jim Schwartz right now, I’m putting a picture of Ezekiel Elliott in that belly shirt from the draft up there,” Baldinger said.
Since the unprecedented crackdown on the Saints, which lead to multiple suspensions, fines and the loss of draft picks, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear the league will not tolerate any talk of bounties or intentionally hurting players. Baldinger, an NFL employee, tweeted later Friday afternoon his comments about Elliott were “mostly tongue in cheek.”
@GarlicFriesBeer lighten up ..it was mostly tongue in cheek... The only point was that Zeke hasn't been popped yet
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 28, 2016
Baldinger and the NFL didn’t not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Back in 2010, Baldinger admitted that he once intentially broke the ankle of Eric Swann, a defensive tackle on the then-NFC East rival Phoenix Cardinals, after claiming the defender went after his knee during the first game of the 1993 season.
“It was so well crafted that you couldn’t really see my intent. It was just a legal chop-block, but I made sure to work with the center and the tackle to make sure the high-low was in effect,” Baldinger told The Fanatic host Mike Missanelli back in 2010. “I had talked about it and actually had a game-plan for it, and I’m actually pretty proud of it because he was a dirtiest player that ever played the game.”
Former Rams and Washington linebacker London Fletcher, who is an NFL analyst for CBS Sports, was among the critics to pounce on Baldinger’s comments, calling them reckless:
— NFL_IRONMAN (@LFletcher59) October 29, 2016
The idea of a team offering a bounty for intentionally injuring a player has recently reappeared in the news after Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre revealed that during his time with the Vikings, Minnesota instituted their own bounty program in 2009.
“It was part of the culture,” Artis Hicks, a Minnesota offensive lineman, told author Jeff Pearlman in his autobiography of Favre. “I had coaches start a pot and all the veterans put in an extra $100, $200, and if you hurt someone special, you get the money. There was a bottom line, and I think we all bought in: you’re there to win, and if taking out the other team’s best player helps you win, hey, it’s nothing personal. Just business.”
Baldinger played 11 seasons in the NFL. In addition to his time in Philadelphia, Baldinger also spent time playing for the Cowboys, Bill and Colts. In addition to his role as an analyst for the NFL Network, he is a regular contributor on The Fanatic.