NFL's Bounty Hunting Hysteria
March 23, 2012
Suspending without pay for the 2012-13 season New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton March 22 for approving bounties on the heads of top offensive players, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell overreacted the practice. Goodell also banned indefinitely former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for starting the practice of rewarding defensive players for deliberately harming key offensive players. While never formalized on any NFL team, defensive players—from Pop Warner to the NFL—are always told to knock out key offensive threats. Making an unwritten policy explicit or actually orchestrating such a practice by giving defensive players cash rewards for trying to injure offensive players forced Goodell to grandstand. Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wants to hold hearings on whether a real bounty-hunting system actually operates in professional sports
Goodell’s decision to make a martyr out of Payton and Williams could backfire when you consider the big picture. Recent decisions by the NFL to ban helmet-to-helmet hits attempt to prevent traumatic brain injuries [TBI], recognizing that the “defense never rests” in the NFL or other sports. Defensive players get none of the glamour but all of the blame when offensive players work their magic. As the adage goes, “the best defense is a good offense,” leaving defensive players at a distinct disadvantage. “Let’s be real basic about it here. If this activity were taking place off of a sporting field, away from the court, nobody would have a second thought [about whether it’s wrong], “You mean, someone paid you to go out and hurt someone,’” said Durbin, making zero sense. If you paid someone to assault someone off the field you’d be charged as an accessory to assault-and-battery.
Whether on the field or off, paying someone to harm, injure, maim or disable someone with advanced planning constitutes a crime by anyone’s books. Neither Goodell nor Durbin are naïve about pugilistic sports like football and boxing. Fans relish the Roman arena-like atmosphere, where violence is permissible as long as it’s played by the rules. Just ask Los Angeles Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin who was nearly decapitated last night by New Orleans Hornets’ forward Jason Smith going for a lay-up, playing civilized sport of NBA basketball. If Goodell and Durbin review the tape, they’d throw the book at Hornet’s head coach Monty Williams for rewarding players for flagrant fowls. Whether Smith was paid or not, his aggression was inexcusable. Yet, to show what fans really expect, New Orleans’ fans cheered Smith, high-fiving him while getting tossed out of the game.
NFL sets strict rules to protect players from unlawful hits in games. Whether Goodell likes it or not, players are paid extra, one way or another, for doing their jobs, including putting hard but legal hits on the NFL’s key offensive players. Too many body slams and sacks sidelined future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning with serious career-ending neck injuries. By Goodell’s standards, head coaches, defensive coordinators or even players should pay a draconic price for getting rewarded for injuring Manning. When Manning decided to play NFL quarterback, he knew the risks that eventually led to his disability. Defensive players trying to stop gifted offensive players like Manning, have no choice but to hit hard, with the intent, of stopping key offensive threats. Throwing the book at Payton or Williams doesn’t address the real nature of violent sports like football.
Whatever networks cover the NFL, the have their mics placed strategically on the field to record the full-impact of devastating defensive hits on key offensive players. New Orleans Saints staff and players were guilty to talking openly about what everyone else does routinely in the NFL. Before overreacting to idea of “bounty hunting,” defensive players have always been rewarded for mugging key offensive players. What does the NFL front-office think that happens when Baltimore Ravens Middle linebacker Ray Lewis gets his hands on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady? Both know, that whatever the NFL rules, Lewis, with premeditation, will tries to take out the competition: That’s his job—and fans expect nothing less. Throwing the book at Peyton and Williams doesn’t deal with unwritten NFL rules.
If the New Orleans Saints were guilty of anything, it was openly discussing how they’d reward their defensive players. NFL officials know the violent nature of the professional football. They can change all the rules they want to reduce injuries to key offensive players. But, before they turn the NFL into professional wrestling, they need to accept and admit the violent nature of the game. “Let me be clear: There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another players, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness and safety,” said Goodell, overstating his case. Everyone knows that it’s the defensive player’s job to take down key offensive players. Defensive players have always been rewarded for taking out potent offensive threats. Goodell must get real and stop kidding himself.
Home || Articles || Books || The Teflon Report || Reactions || About Discobolos
Discobolos Consulting Services, Inc.