If you thought it was bad that NFL teams paid bounties to go after opposing players, this story won't sit well. Pop Warner, the nation's biggest youth football league, has suspended coaches on a top California team accused of doing the same. The Orange County Register first reported the allegations, which claim that the coaches paid 10- and 11-year-olds $20 to $50 to go after stars on the other team and try to take them out of the game. A parent whistleblower says he saw one kid get cash after a game in which he gave an opponent a concussion.
The story about the Tustin Red Cobras is getting picked up nationally, by the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, among others. The team denies the charges. "I have never paid a player to go out and hurt another player period, end of story," says the head coach. Meanwhile, the Register has weighed in with another story, this time alleging that the Tustin coaches broke the signup rules to create a powerhouse team and encouraged players to use "extreme weight-loss efforts," including the use of diuretics. "They cheated," says one player's mom. "This is a powder keg of crap."