Bounty Killer: In trying to change the league the NFL may be leaving its players and coaches in the dust
So much has been written on the New Orleans Saints and Gregg Williams and their apparent bounty system already. It’s crazy how fast the internet pushes out opinions. Typically the same ones: most writers’ columns are either outraged about the bounty system or outraged about the outrage. Either you’re appalled that this kind of thing goes on or you can’t believe how naive people are to believe that this kind of thing doesn’t go on.
As you know, I’m always a few days late with my thoughts because I hate being redundant and I also like to think about what I think. In this case, I understand both sides of the issue but I’m stuck on one thing that’s more important to me than how folks feel about bounties:
With every passing day it seems that Goodell is moving ahead with his new version of the NFL without waiting for everyone else to catch up.
As players, coaches, and diehard fans, we are not yet ready for Goodell’s kinder, gentler league. In fact, we don’t even know what it would look like in practice. The thought of players approaching the game with any lesser degree of fury just feels like the creation of a sport we want no parts of. And players and coaches are eager to look for ways to keep the sport closer to its roots. That mentality will take time to change.
Especially when the league is insistent upon portraying it as a “culture change” rather than what it is: a revamping of the game itself. And that’s why a Coach like Gregg Williams can run bounty programs across multiple teams over several years without any eyebrows outside of the organizations in question being raised.
If it’s not clear to you yet, please understand that the NFL has NO CHOICE but to re-position the NFL as a game that is violent but not malicious. A game where players say ”I want to stop the play not stop a career” which for most of us loyal football watchers is a distinction without much of a difference. Still, I don’t question the need for the NFL to try to create a stronger boundary there. The lawsuits against the NFL by former players and their families are racking up. There are over a dozen lawsuits in play currently and over 300 players involved. The public hasn’t really gotten a grasp of the fact that all of these lawsuits have been running without any decisions handed down. That means the NFL has no idea what the end result will be and the impact that it all will have on this country’s favorite sport.
In the meantime, Commissioner Goodell is scrambling to make the NFL something that it’s never been before. And again I understand the need for change but what I question is the mad dash speed at which its taking place. I think the league might need some sort of “No player or coach left behind” program.
A while back when I wrote about illegal hits in the NFL I think I used an analogy about lunch at work. So I’m going to stick with that analogy but change it a bit. I want to make an important point about official rules vs. unwritten rules.
[To read the rest of this post, click on the "Read More" tab at the bottom]