Kangaroo Court: The real story of 'Kitties' in NFL


Kangaroo Court: The real story of 'Kitties' in NFL

A long held sacred tradition in NFL locker rooms was formed to hold guys accountable for their actions, not for any pay for performance as some would suggest concerning Bounty Gate. Better yet, some have reported the IRS should get involved for supplemental income earned, which almost seems comical from my perspective. But when figures such as 50,000 dollars are being reported as potential Kitty sizes in the New Orleans Saints pay for performance scandal, I can see where it could potentially raise some eyebrows. The IRS may want to open branches at every golf course and office space in America that has a final four pool also.

The truth of the matter is, when a player was late for a meeting, he has to pay the kitty. When a player falls asleep in a meeting, pay the pot. When you dont know your assignment at practice, pay up! Now you get the idea. Ive been on some teams where Kangaroo Court fines continued throughout the year where position groups or entire offenses, or defenses go out for dinner paid through self imposed fines by players. Its no different than an office Christmas Party. For tax purposes, that would be listed as a business tax deduction on your return. The fines were not crazy. Five bucks for breaking wind in a meeting where you made your teammates suffer because you were too lazy and disrespectful to get up and leave the room. Some veterans may want to clean up the foul language for the week. You got fined a dollar every time you cussed. That particular fine was not a favorite, but paid the kitty well.

Kangaroo Court was formed to build team accountability and camaraderie. It was not in any way shape or form an incentive program to pay players to purposefully injure another player. Some teams would utilize their self imposed fines during the week by position. For example, the defensive backs would decide the fines accumulated during the week (kitty) would go to the defensive back who made a key interception, or forced fumble. Defensive lineman may decide their kitty goes to the player who registered two sacks. The wide receivers' kitty may go to whoever got the first touchdown or key block springing the running back for a big run. You get the idea. These were by no means astronomical figures as again the 50,000 figure reported in the New Orleans scandal. The figures were more in the 50 to 100 range as most players like former Bear and Washington Redskin player Adam Archuleta has publicly stated. Imagine this concept, some pots are split. What if two receivers make a big block or two defensive backs force fumbles? Its exactly why they are split, which equals less money per player. Ironically, the player cares less about the money and more about making big plays to help his team win.

It was money already taxed and earned by players and players only. Most times players throw kitties awarded back into the pot letting it grow. No player ever wanted to be awarded a kitty after a loss. As a matter of fact, the Court would have never even offered up the kitty after a loss. It was an unspoken rule. So, this is where you get kitties rolling over as has been reported. The importance was always on making big plays to help your team win, not on what you earned from any Court payout! Because again, Kangaroo Court was primarily used for the team dinner traditionally staged separate as an offensive unit or defensive unit. Now that I think about it, 50,000 sounds about right to pay for a quality team dinner. 53 guys, eight practice squad, guys on injured reserve, trainers, equipment room guys, weight room staff. Yep, that sounds about right! Someone should inform the player agents or their CPAs because, thats a business expense on money earned by players and already taxed! Hope they are respectful and leave a good tip, or the court may have to fine them for that!

Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame


Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame

There wasn’t a single game Harry Hiestand coached while at Notre Dame — 77 in total — in which he didn’t have a future top-20 pick starting at left tackle. 

Zack Martin (16th overall, 2014) was followed by Ronnie Stanley (6th overall, 2016), who gave way to Mike McGlinchey (9th overall, 2018). Hiestand also developed Quenton Nelson, who went on to be the highest interior offensive lineman drafted (6th overall, 2018) since 1986. Nelson and McGlinchey became the first pair of college offensive line teammates to be drafted in the first 10 picks since 1991, when Tennessee had tackles Charles McRae and Antone Davis go seventh and eighth. 

“It wasn’t surprising because the kind of guys they are, they absolutely did everything the right way, the way they took care of themselves, the way they trained, the teammates that they are and were,” Hiestand said. “They just did it all the way you wanted them to do it. So it was. It was a good moment.”

Hiestand said he had a sense of pride after seeing his two former players be drafted so high, even if he wasn't able to re-unite with either of them. The Bears, of course, didn’t have a chance to draft Nelson, and had conviction on using the eighth overall pick on linebacker Roquan Smith (as well as having tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie in place for the 2018 season). 

Anecdotally, one former Notre Dame player said (maybe half-jokingly) that Nelson and McGlinchey were fighting each other to see who could get drafted by the Bears to play with Hiestand again.

“There’s nobody that I’ve been around in this game that’s more passionate about what he does,” McGlinchey, now with the San Francisco 49ers, said of Hiestand at Notre Dame’s pro day in March. “There’s really only two things that are important to him, and that’s his family and then his offensive linemen. There’s a lot to be said for that. 

“In this game, everybody’s always trying to work an angle to up their own career — he doesn’t want to do anything but coach O-line, and that’s what really sticks out to us as players. He cares for us like we’re his own. Obviously he coaches extremely hard and is very demanding of his players, which I loved — he pushed me to be the player that I am.

“I’m standing in front of all you guys because of Harry Hiestand. But the amount of passion and care that he has not only for his job but his teaching abilities and his players is what sets him apart.”

Hiestand could’ve stayed as long as he wanted at Notre Dame, presumably, given how much success he had recruiting and developing players there. But six years at one spot is a long time for a position coach, especially at the college level, where the grind of recruiting is so vital to the success of a program. It’s also not like every one of the blue-chip prospects Hiestand recruited to South Bend panned out, either. 

So Hiestand knew he wanted to get back to the NFL after coaching with the Bears under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. It’s a new challenge for him now, not only to develop second-round pick James Daniels but to continue the growth of Cody Whitehair and Leno while getting the most out of Kyle Long, Massie and the rest of the group (back during his first stint with the Bears, Hiestand had the luxury of coaching experienced, more ready-made offensive lines). 

As one of the more highly-regarded offensive line coaches in the country, though, Hiestand could’ve jumped back into the NFL whenever, and nearly wherever, he wanted. And for him, coming back to the Bears was the perfect fit. 

“That’s an awesome, awesome place, a great franchise,” Hiestand said. “It was something, I always wanted to go back, I didn’t know where I would get the opportunity. So I’m just very fortunate it just happened to be back at the same place that I was before. There are a lot of things that are different but there’s also a lot that’s the same. 

“But it’s one of the — it is the greatest organization. Historically, this is where it all began, and being part of it — and the other thing, and I told those guys when I got here, when we get it done here, you guys are going to see this city like you’ve never seen it. And I remember that. That’s what we’re after.” 

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

USA Today

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

Don't be fooled by Tarik Cohen's height. He has towering confidence and he's setting up to have a big role in coach Matt Nagy's offense in 2018.

“On a scale of 1-10, the dangerous level is probably 12,” Cohen said Wednesday at Halas Hall about the impact he can have in the Bears' new system. “Because in backyard football, it’s really anything goes, and it’s really whoever gets tired first, that’s who’s going to lose. I’m running around pretty good out here, so I feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Cohen proved last season he can thrive in space. He made an impact as a runner, receiver and return man and will have a chance at an even bigger workload this fall, assuming he can handle it.

With Jordan Howard established as the starting running back, Cohen knows his touches will come in a variety of ways.

“It might not necessarily be rushes,” he said. “But it’s going to be all over the field, and that’s what I like to do. Any way I can get the ball or make a play for my team, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Cohen averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry as a rookie and led all NFL running backs in the percentage of carries that went for at least 15 yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.