Whatever the max punishment is for the Saints — double it

March 03, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Whatever the max punishment is for the Saints — double it

I realize opinions are like – well, you know what…everyone has one.

But if your opinion is that the New Orleans Saints shouldn’t be punished or penalized for their “Bounty System” then something’s terribly wrong with the way you look at things.

The NFL should throw the book at the Saints, whatever “the book” is.  In fact, whatever the maximum penalty turns out to be, I say double it.

You simply can’t have players in the league creating a bonus structure for injuring other players.  There’s more to it than that, but it really is that easy to preside over if you’re the NFL and the task at hand is determining the gravity of the situation and the penalty for pulling it off for a couple of seasons.

It’s simply unacceptable.

Please don’t make excuses for the Saints…or anyone else in the league who has been guilty of this conduct.

Don’t make excuses for them by saying, “Football is a physical game”.  Or “We like to see those hard hits every Sunday”.  Or “The money doesn’t really change anything, they’re trying to punish each other on every play anyway.”

None of those words pave the way for putting a system in place where players are rewarded for helping to remove an opposing player from the game.

It’s essentially a locker room “prop bet”.  ”Maybe we can’t bet on the outcome of today’s game, but we can put some money up for the first guy to take out the opposing quarterback.”

It’s not gambling, but it’s close enough that the league most certainly could lump it in there with wagering.

And let’s not even mention what happens when the Federal Government gets wind of this and decides to make a big deal about the taxes that weren’t paid on that “income” laying around in the locker room.

But, there’s one element of this that no one has yet talked about that makes rewarding players for injuring other players a reprehensible act.

If they’re doing it in the NFL, it won’t be long before they’re doing it in college.  And if they’re doing it in the NFL and college, it won’t be long before it filters down to the high school level.

I went to a pair of high school playoff basketball games this past week.  I had to laugh out loud at the pre-game introductions of both teams (all four, if you count the two games).  Long gone are the days where they announce the player, his number and what year of school he’s in.  No, no, no.  Now, every starter has his own unique “intro welcome”, where a non-starter stands out on the floor and welcomes the starter when he’s announced by doing a fist-bump, two hand slaps, a quick body-search (as if the police were “frisking” him) and then a big chest bump.  All of that is done in a well-rehearsed routine.  And every player has a different one of those.

Do you know where those kids picked that up from?

College.

I wonder where the college kids learned it?

You can guarantee yourself this:  If the NFL is handing out money for big hits or “cart-offs”, it won’t be long before high schoolers are doing something similar, even if they don’t have money at their disposal.  Teen-agers are extremely creative.  They’ll figure out something to put on the table.  Weed, perhaps?  Or “beer money”, the equivalent of one dollar per-kid in the locker room.

How about this concept:  Maybe an enterprising coach comes along – say a coach who also doubles as a gym, math or science teacher – and starts handing out A’s if the other team’s star player doesn’t finish the game.

If you think high school coaches and players are above shenanigans like that, you’re living in a cave.

It looks like the NFL has the Saints dead-to-rights on this one.  I can’t imagine there’s a “chain of custody” excuse in the offing that will somehow make this out to be less of an offense than it is.

Financially rewarding a player for injuring another player is just about the worst thing you can do in all of sports.

These are fathers of children, husbands of women and good, upstanding members of their community.  Having to spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair because someone wanted to scoop up $1,500 after a helmet to helmet hit is unthinkable, yet it’s exactly the kind of result that’s possible when players are intent on injuring someone else.

It’s unacceptable.

Let’s hope the NFL does the right thing and throws the book AND the kitchen sink at the Saints.

And let’s all hope and pray that this sort of barbaric behavior doesn’t somehow trickle down to the high school level, where kids and coaches are already losing sight of the real purpose of athletics.

 

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9 Comments For This Post

  1. eric Says:

    You’re missing the main point: Gregg Williams ran this and paid the money out of fines he levied. That makes it far worse IMO than just players doing this on their own. And if you want to read about Williams check out M Wise’s scathing piece in the Was Post today

  2. Ruben Says:

    If the NFL levies major fines on the Saints, that amount should also be deducted from their salary cap over the next two years.

  3. PghSteve Says:

    How about the NFL puts an asterisk next to the Saints’ Super Bowl victory? “Super Bowl won while purposely injuring opposing players.”

    Eliminate all of their 2012 draft picks?

    Suspend every player involved for at least 4 games to start the season?

    Suspend Gregg Williams for the year? (I know he is with the Rams now, but still…

    Suspend Sean Payton? If he did not know about this, that would say much about his coaching…

  4. Mark Says:

    If the Ravens were accused of this you all would take a 180 degree turn.

  5. Sam Says:

    The irony for all those making the “well, it’s a physical game as it is” excuse and “hitting is what they get paid for” argument is that they are defending the sport and its manliness.

    But what could be more unsportsmanlike and cowardly than to fear an opponent’s talent so much that you deliberately injure and remove him in order to increase your chances of winning? It’s cheap.

    Injuries should always remain an unfortunte and unintended part of sport, not a means towards the end of winning. Otherwise the sport becomes barbaric, and if we’re OK with that then we’ve become the mob of Rome, civilized in our barbarity.

  6. Unitastoberry Says:

    Agreed its wrong and fines and suspensions are warranted.However,I suspect this has been going on for years.Tell me the Madden Raiders didn’t do this? Some Bears teams of the 50s and 85? This time it slipped out. Rex Ryan are you listening?

  7. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Absolutely agree, Drew! In fact, they deserve to be stripped of their Super Bowl Championship in addition to fines, suspensions, etc.! Aside from being a violation of league rules, this conduct may, in fact, constitute a violation of law. “Deliberately” inflicting injury may be tantamount to assault and battery, notwithstanding the inherent violence that is a “normal” part of the game!

  8. Cliff Says:

    Using the excuse “everybody else does it” and “we’re just the ones they picked out” doesn’t ‘fly’ in my opinion. They are the ones that got caught. And when something like this comes down, usally the most guilty is the one that gets caught. Maybe not fair in a way, but they should serve as an example for anybody planning such wrong things; and they should get the maximum penalty.

    Like you said, this type of behaviour can filter down to the colleges and high school. The NFL should pose the maximum penalty and thus send a message to all: Intentionally injuring an opponent in any circumstance is not acceptable!

  9. Donta Says:

    Bounties have been in pro football for decades I wonder how many teams are running programs and have not been caught yet.

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