21 March 2012

Reaction to NFL Bounty Punishment

Good for you, NFL, almost. I obviously had a big reaction toward the news of the NO Saints "bounty program" and the responsibilities of Gregg Williams and the players.

From espn.com , here is a quick rundown of the penalties handed out.

- Former N.O. Def Coordinator (current St Louis Rams D-Co) Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely

- N.O. Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year

- GM Mickey Loomis has been suspended for 8 games

- The Saints team has been fined $500,000 and lost their second round picks in 2012 and 2013.

- N.O. Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt has been suspended for 6 games

Player suspensions (namely Jonathan Vilma) are still possible, as the NFL has not yet finished its investigation. That is why the "almost" clause is at the end of my opening sentence. In my eyes, the players who comprimised their integrity are just as guilty as the man who put the money on the table and the ones who knew about it and did nothing to stop it.

I'm surely not the only one who was surprised at the severity of the penalties, but my surprise is for different reasons than those I've heard on sports radio today. My surprise does not come from the thought that it is overkill, I just didn't think that Roger Goodell and the NFL had it in them to be as harsh as is necessary. I don't think Williams should never work again, in fact, I do think he should get a job after his suspension has been served. I think it is necessary, in fact, in order for him to attempt to reclaim his lost integrity. The NFL apparently said that his case will be reviewed after the season, but his reinstatment is contingent on how helpful he is with the investigation. I liken that to a drug dealer getting a lighter sentence for helping the police track down other dealers and the supplier. There is nothing wrong with dangling a carrot to get him to cooperate.

Roger Goodell had to send a message. His message had to reach coaches, players and front offices of every NFL team. The message had to reach fans. For the NFL's sake, his message had to reach the former players who are suing for back pay and lifelong health benefits. This strong stance on what is and is not acceptable left no gray area in the matter of attempting to injure other players. Goodell made it known that playing to injure is of the worst kind of offense.

Jonathan Vilma will likely be suspended for putting a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre in what turned out to be Favre's last game. Yes, that is disgusting, but even more so are the players who accepted the tiny sum of $1,500 to knock out a mid-rate slot receiver in a meaningless mid-season game. The player suspensions need to be as far reaching as the rest of the suspensions. The players knew it was wrong, the players knew that the NFL stepped in and told them to stop, and those same players would be pitching a hissy-fit if they knew that their ACL was being targeted by an opposing team for $1,500. They should be held at least AS accountable as, if not more than, the coaches and front office.

This is an important time for the NFL and Roger Goodell's player safety policies. I'm sure he's going to get plenty of calls, emails and petitions during the appeal process. I've already heard people compare these punishments to that of the 1980s SMU death penalty. Maybe the result of these suspensions will turn out to be similar to the SMU program. So be it. The team deserves whatever comes about. Goodell needs to standfast in the tough penalties.

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