GIANTS' GREAT BAVARO RECALLS BEING TARGETED
"Mark Bavaro could never prove he was a target of bounty-hunting assasins, but
in the NFL, if you are regarded as the king of beasts, then most likely the law
of the jungle was going to be enforced.
“I only had my suspicions for everybody, but especially the [Buddy
Ryan-coached] Eagles,” the Giants tight end great told The Post. “I never had
any hard evidence.”
Bavaro recalled the day he was ejected against Ryan’s predators.
“Andre Waters was trying to take my knee out, and he told me so during the
game,” Bavaro said. “He almost did.”
Waters, who had a reputation as arguably the dirtiest player in football,
told Bavaro: “I know which knee you had surgery on. I’m going to get it
A few series later, Waters tried to make good on his threat.
“Then I saw him coming up out of the corner of my eye, so I made a preemptive
strike,” Bavaro said.
And Bavaro got flagged for a personal foul, and went bonkers, incredulous the
official had either not heard or ignored Waters’ threat.
Bavaro wound up befriending the late Waters when he joined the Rich Kotite
Eagles in 1993. Did the practice continue?
“I don’t know,” Bavaro said.
Bavaro recalled he and his Giants teammates always would remind one another
to “keep your head on a swivel.” Ryan’s Eagles were at the forefront of bounty
accusations, but only the naive believe the practice of cash incentives was not
widespread throughout the league.
“I’m sure it happened all over the league,” Bavaro said. “I know defenses are
always looking to knock guys out of the game. If you look at it from a
common-sense standpoint, offensive players get incentives for catches and
yardage and whatever. What can your incentive be on defense other than hitting
people and hurting people? That’s what they’re out there to do. I don’t have a
problem with it.”
Because that’s the very essence of the game. But the intent to injure is not.
This is why the NFL must deal strictly with the Saints for their elaborate
Bavaro recalled another incident when the Giants played the Cardinals.
“I broke my jaw — it was wired,” Bavaro said. “I was having a decent game. A
couple of guys were trying to hit me up high in the head a lot.”
Bavaro said he believes coach Bill Parcells noticed.
“I remember Parcells pulling me out after a while, with the understanding,
‘Come out of the game for a few plays, they look like they know your jaw is
broken and they’re going after it,’ ” Bavaro said. “That’s the sense I got. ...
That’s why the injury reports are so secretive.”
Bavaro, whose nickname was Rambo because of his legendary toughness,
advocates fewer rules prohibiting defenseless offensive players from
retaliation. Bavaro referenced the crackdown on crackback blocks and chop blocks
and head slaps.
“You have to go out of your way to hit somebody on offense,” he said. “You’re
too busy running your play. On defense, you’re just running around out there.
You’ve got a lot more leeway. You can go after somebody when you’re on defense.
You can’t do that when you’re on offense.”
It is Bavaro’s contention that the same mutually assured destruction strategy
employed by the United States and Russia during the Cold War actually would be
beneficial for football.
“If you had mutually assured destruction, then I think you’d see a lot more
respect on both sides of the ball for everybody’s health,” he said. “Back in the
old days, you could take a bad apple out when you wanted to.”
Bavaro lamented how the most violent defenders nowadays become famous.
“You get commercials,” he said.
Better they get on-field justice meted out, the way they would way once upon
“You could gang up on a guy on the next play and give him a little message:
‘Knock it off, do it cleanly, or we’re going to come at you and blow your knee
out. If you want to be known as the dirty, tough guy, we have the ability to
take you out,’ ” he said. “Now you don’t.
“You don’t want to have the reputation as a guy who goes out to hurt
everybody if everybody else has an opportunity to hurt you. They’d either shape
up and be more respectful, or they’d be gone.
“I think it would be a more civilized game, actually.”