Bounties? Part Of The Game?

I am very torn on this subject. As it was revealed this week that the New Orleans Saints are guilty of having a bounty system to knock opposing players out of the game. Most notoriously apparently targeting Brett Favre and Kurt Warner during their 2010 Super Bowl run.  The master mind? Defensive Co-ordinator Gregg Williams, who is now the DC of the St Louis Rams. Is this really surprising to anyone?  Not to me. It’s been part of the game for as long as the league has existed probably. But now it has come to the surface. And in a big way.

Then New Orleans DC Gregg Williams

Gregg Williams has already issued an apology with this statement. “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the ‘pay for performance’ program while I was with the Saints,” Williams said in a statement released by the Rams.  “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”  I guess that is an admission of guilt. But why are we singling out the Saints, when everyone is taking part in this. And I have read a couple of articles where the players are getting a pass, and Williams and the Saints organization as a whole are the only villains here. But contrary to what Mike Judge wrote about here, the players have to be culpable, they were the ones laying the hits. 

But then, I have to play devil’s advocate. It IS a violent game. It is dangerous. You are out to inflict a hurt on the opposition. Especially the QB. If they needed incentive to go out there and try to give their team the best chance to win, what is wrong with that, especially in the scope that is the NFL. They know the dangers, they know the risk, and are compensated handsomely. Now, I would never support the practice of late hits, hits on unsuspecting, defenseless players. Never. But is this what it is about? On second thought, that is exactly what this is about. Players are constantly complaining about the commissioners office being hypocrites about player safety, especially in regards to concussions. But who is really the hypocrite as this comes to light? Squarely on the players I think. As Mike Freeman of CBS Sports writes here, and I agree with him. The players should know better, and should be in a position to protect their fellow combatants who have families to support, who are making a living at this violent sport. Aren’t they all part of the same union? Then bounties have to go, and hopefully this is the first step to make it not part of the game.

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