Mutiny About the Bounty
Today's announcement about the ruling on Bountygate by Paul Tagliabue has turned the media world into a frenzy. Any glance at Twitter today has the players declaring victory while every football site around has some sort of argument going on about it. Some people think the current commissioner has lied. Some people think that there is enough reaffirmation of the facts to prove that the players involved are the ones who lied. Actually, everyone has lied to an extent. Everything else is just positioning in the public relations game.
What truly happened is some shade of grey where everyone involved is guilty in some way. Roger Goodell is guilty of using the two-year investigation as a way to enforce old rules by making a team the example of the new, safer NFL that is concerned about the health and future of the players. The players are at least guilty for ignoring their own safety and violating a league policy they knew about. The coaches of the Saints are guilty of violating league rules and using antiquated ways to instill a fire into their team. Drew Brees is guilty of being a self-righteous loudmouth who has thrown seven interceptions during many playoff runs for fantasy teams. He also seems to not realize that league rules were broken.
Jonathan Vilma may or may not be guilty of putting a bounty on Brett Favre. He is guilty of not putting a bounty on those awful Crocs Favre wore. His position against the league is so contentious that his story will have to be presented to and decided by a federal court.
The only person I do feel some sympathy toward is Anthony Hargrove. It is my opinion that the facts seem to paint a clear path where Hargrove was coerced into making false statements because coaches wanted to cover their rears. Hargrove tried to play the game the way he felt was needed to keep his job. He doesn't have one. Still, Hargrove was in New Orleans while league rules were being violated.
All in all, no one over-played their hand more than Roger Goodell. He is going to need to send a body double to the Super Bowl. How could something that took over two years still feel so rushed and so indecisive? Goodell has been around the game a long time. Several former players have come out during the time Bountygate has been in the news and have made comments that seem to make it obvious that more than a few teams had pay for performance programs in the league. Why didn't he go after other teams? Why take the extra step to bring up the pay to injure issue?
Well, the answer to that last question is the heavy cloud of concussion lawsuits hanging over the league. Goodell wanted the biggest umbrella he could find. Evidence in courts has to be airtight for a reason. He should have treated his own investigation the same way.
Look, each person in the general public is going to have their perception about the whole ordeal. Just remember, though, if you are a person who isn't sick of hearing about Bountygate that each side is hoping to shape your perception. That is what PR is. Don't forget that shaping perception often involves stretching of the truth, blatant lies and propaganda. Every single person involved did something wrong to bring the situation to this point.