“Bounty Boys” is a series of photographs made during the 2011-2012 New Orleans Saints NFL season. It was after this season that evidence of a system of paying players to deliberately injure other players came to light. Confessions, audio recordings, and investigations brought a malicious aspect of game strategy out of the locker room and into the sphere of public discourse.
What made this so scandalous was that the acts in question weren’t happening off the field, but rather in front of the largest TV and in-stadium American audiences in history, with one of the most popular teams in the country committing the crimes. How could players get away with pre-meditated violence when millions were carefully placing their hopes and bets on their every move?
The answer lies in the nature of football, the backyard game that went from a league barely breaking even, to producing an estimated $10 billion in annual revenue in 50 years. A sport whose appeal relies on equal parts grace and brutality, professional football is now challenged by lawsuits related to concussions and long term brain damage, as well as the addicting effects of pain killers and performance enhancers. It is a sport so profitable that it will encourage competition by any means necessary, so violent that the results can be plainly dangerous. These moments of grace and brutality are what I captured, framed by the excitement of the fans.