BountyGate: Much Ado About Nothing

Posted: March 5, 2012 in NFL
Tags: , , , , ,

The whole NFL bounty controversy is a joke. I’m not talking about the kind of joke that makes you laugh. I’m talking about the kind of joke that makes you shake your head and think of such words as stupid, naïve, lawsuits, phony and public relations.

For the record, football players have been trying to literally knock out their opponents for decades. Coaches have been yelling such instructions as “Take his head off”, “Kill him” and, yes, “Knock him out” for as long as football has been played. Players have been rewarded with high fives, helmet stickers, nicknames, standing ovations and, yes, money for delivering big hits for just as long. Highlight films are dedicated to crushing hits.

For anyone to act shocked or offended that the New Orleans Saints have been caught paying bonuses for brutal hits is as phony as a politician’s promise. I don’t know which I find more offensive: the act of disgust expressed by NFL brass and others or the stupidity of the Saints for so openly ignoring the rules?

What most amazes about this story is that in this age of mega salaries teams feel the need to pay big-hit bonuses to get the best out of their players. (Don’t think for a moment the Saints are the only NFL team paying bounties.)

The reaction of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is purely for show. It’s about projecting a caring image with an eye toward future lawsuits filed by retired players and their families.

I give the NFL credit for trying to protect its players, but understand it is more about protecting valuable assets than it is about caring about the players’ health, now and later in retirement. In the last decade, as the NFL’s popularity and bank account soared, rule after rule has been instituted to keep the players – particularly the highly paid and box office star quarterbacks – on the field and out of the hospital. The NFL has done this despite the whining of its fans and many of the players.

Here’s a news flash: Football is a brutal game. Much of its popularity can be traced to the macho nature of the sport. Player after player has told me through the years that he could “take out” an opponent almost any time he wanted. The fear of payback and, I hope, some kind of honor among colleagues is the reason more players aren’t seriously injured.

What will be the end result of the Saints’ BountyGate? Expect some harsh penalties to be handed out. Seven-figure fines, suspensions and loss of draft picks will be coming. Gregg Williams, now the St. Louis Rams’ defensive coordinator who held that job for New Orleans when bounties were known to have been paid, likely faces the toughest punishment. I agree with 1010XL show host Mike Dempsey who says Williams could get a lifetime suspension.

The NFL will flex its muscles. You’d think coaches and players would be smart enough to stop paying bounties.

But in the end little will change and that’s the way the NFL wants it.


  1. mike says:

    almost 100 years ago papa hallas said tht if you take the other team’s best player and hit him hard enough often enough, he wouldn’t be their best player by the end of the game. that’s not vicious or brutal, that’s the inherent nature of football.

    i haven’t played in 40 years, but even i know that every player and coach wants to be intimidating and aggressive. we used to get stickers (we had no money) for knocking the other guy on his ass as often as we could so that he would not play with the same enthusiasm. he’d duck, or short arm it, or not want to run across the middle or run as hard between the tackles. sometimes he’d start getting up really slow. guy with the most stickers got a steak dinner at the end of the season. was that a bounty?

    i think a lot of this stuff is being taken out of context – these guys were not stupidly motivated by money in a pot (as one of your hosts just said), any more than i’m motivated by money to play poker one night a week with friends. and i doubt many were looking for cheap shot opportunities just to hurt another guy. but, over the course of a very long season, year after year, they’re motivating themselves and their team mates to be intimidating, to be physical, to make the other guy not want to play as hard or as effectively.

    just seems there’s a lot of pious, sanctimonious melodrama right now and i think some folks just need put some of this (not all) in a more realistic context.

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