The recent news about Saints players/coaches being involved in a "Bounty" program isn't the first time we've heard about this disturbing motivational philosophy in the NFL. A "Win at all Cost" mantra has been long standing in this very physical sport. What surprises and disturbs me the most is that it is being used in today's game. The money being made by players, coaches, and owners today ... is at an all-time high. Why would players (with coaches consent), try to take out opposing players for a few thousand dollars more in their pocket ... when they are making millions? Wouldn't you want to help your own NFL brothers have long careers so that they would respect your goal to have a long career in the NFL? The opportunity to reap the monetary rewards from playing/coaching in the NFL is a privilege. This privilege is being abused and disrespected with "Bounty" programs. In an attempt to show solidarity, didn't these same players stand side by side in the current CBA negotiations, didn't they say that they wanted the same fair deal for all players, didn't they claim to be a united family or brotherhood? If somebody put bounty dollars on my head, I wouldn't consider them to be family. How hypocritical is that?
Not only are "Bounty" hits on players wrong ... it's amoral. These bounty hits can alter a season and/or career of a player, as well as, the job status of a coach. Injuries to players are up because of the brute physical nature of the NFL. We don't need intentional knockout attempts to make that number go up. The league needs its stars to stay on the field, that's what makes the game so popular, that's what drives in the money in hordes. Injuries to key or star players can ruin a teams (as well as the fans) season in a hurry. They can also alter a coaches job status and his families future (just ask Jim Caldwell). The phrase "coaching fraternity" is thrown around all the time. Purposely trying to knockout opposing coaches key players goes against a fraternity code. Is a shot at winning (and a bigger payday) worth breaking the code? Is it worth breaking the moral fiber of the NFL commissioner's vision for the league? I don't think so.
I had a "Bounty" put on my head in high school. It was my senior year, we were ranked #2 and we were playing a league rival who was ranked #1 in Southern California. We played at their place, from the start of the game defensive players began taking shots at my legs ... even when I handed the ball off to the RB. I was able to avoid the attempted cheap shots until the middle of the 2nd quarter. I ran the ball for about 15 yards, while lying face down I started to get up when I was speared in the lower back, being at their place ... no penalty called. I continued to play, but after awhile I couldn't breathe. I had my right guard call the snap count at the L.O.S. so that everyone could hear, but the biggest reason I had him do it was ... I didn't have enough air to do it. Finally, after another carry, I slowly walked to the sideline to tell the coach that I couldn't breathe, and, that I could no longer play. At halftime my dad and my godfather took me to the hospital where I found out that I had fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. The doctor told me that I was an extremely lucky young man (for which I looked up at him in bewilderment at his statement). He then told me that I could have easily had the other lung collapsed with one wrongly placed hit, and that I could have died. I missed the rest of the season, as well as the playoffs, which hurt our teams chances at winning a championship. I later found out that the school we played had a bounty pool on me, the player credited with putting me out of the game got somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000.
This is why I abhor "Bounty" programs/hits. This brings me to my question. How should the participants in these "Bounty" programs be punished. The amoral acts of the high school coach involved were eventually discovered ... and he was rightfully fired. What should NFL commissioner Roger Goodell do?
Should Saints owner Tom Benson be fined?
Should HC Sean Payton be fined?
Should GM Mickey Loomis be fined?
Should the Saints lose a draft pick or picks?
Should players be fined or suspended? How do you prove who was involved?
Should Gregg Williams be fined, suspended, or both?
If I were the commissioner, I would want to make a strong statement stating that ... This isn't going to be a part the NFL! It won't be tolerated!!
I would administer a hefty fine to Tom Benson (he is the owner, and he is responsible for the organization), I would take away a draft choice (2nd round at least) from the Saints since both the HC and GM knew about it. I don't know how one can determine what players were involved, so they unfortunately get away clean. Because of the past history with Gregg Williams, I would send a loud message to coaches by suspending him for a year. I like Gregg, and I think that he is a tremendous defensive coach. But, letting this type of amoral behavior occur (with the possibility of shortening someone's career and earning potential) should not go unpunished. I know that Gregg resents being a part of this, he's not a bad guy, but he was a participant in an act that IMO ... is detrimental to the integrity of the NFL. What's your take on this matter?