The Times Picayune reports that New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Shanle claims the NFL blew the "bounty" scandal out of proportion. The reason? To scare the rest of the league out of potentially implementing a similar system.

Shanle points to former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' language as being misrepresented.

 “Gregg said crazy stuff,” Shanle said. “If you take him literally, you’re gonna be locked up. But he was the best motivator I’ve ever been around.”

Shanle said the practice of side bets between players is common throughout the NFL, although the program the Saints had in place under Williams may have been more organized than most. Shanle said Williams introduced it as a "fun part of our defense."

But that doesn't mean it was a bonanza. He said players would lose money just as easily as gaining money, thanks to fines for penalties and mental errors. So penalties or illegal hits were actually discouraged.

Shanle Opens Up - NOLA.COM/The Times Picayune

Shanle does admit to a pay-for-performance system, something his former teammates Darren Sharper and Tracy Porter have also explained in the wake of the "bounty" scandal.

In essence, Shanle is speaking the exact words that some Saints fans have been screaming in the wake of the NFL's harsh punishments given to Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, Joe Vitt, Gregg Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita, and Anthony Hargrove.

In the words of Vitt, "We're being punished for the spoken word, not the iron fist."