‘Bountygate’ suspensions show that in the NFL, safety is paramount
Ever had one of those times where you’re planning on writing one thing, and then BAM, something else happens, and you have scrap the whole thing?
Well I had one of those “command+a+delete” moments when I heard about the suspensions of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, general manager Micky Loomis, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams earlier today.
This, to me, is a story that transcends sports because it deals with an individual’s sense of humanity. It deals with what is and what is not acceptable for one human being to do to another.
And when it comes down to it, the NFL made the right call in handing down these punishments.
The NFL is a mega business—in terms of pure dollars, it’s probably the best-run professional league in the country, and some would argue it’s the best in the world. Because the NFL has the ability to be purely a business, it has to set certain standards of conduct and professionalism.
This is why Payton, Loomis, and Williams all had to be suspended (as well as assistant head coach Joe Vitt), and the Saints franchise had to be punished by losing two draft picks.
In the Twitterverse, some have said that the year suspension without pay for Payton, the eight-game suspension for Loomis, and the indefinite suspension of Williams is excessive. But is it really? Shouldn’t the coaches and front office be held to the highest standard of conduct? And if they don’t—by willingly participating in attempts to injure players—doesn’t that deserve the highest form of punishment?
Well, regardless of what you and I believe, the message from commissioner Rodger Goodell is clear: Intentionally trying to harm players so that they cannot play the sport that sustains their livelihood is unacceptable.
And this should make sense to anyone in any situation anywhere in the world. Not that it’s exactly the same thing, but imagine if you were a professor and someone came in and deliberately tried to harm you so that you couldn’t teach. I’d imagine that anyone would say that’s unacceptable too.
But here’s the thing—the NFL is going to have to address the fact that this is probably not the only “bounty” program that’s gone on in its league. Football is inherently a violent sport, but clearly trying to injure someone—the NFL specifically pointed out Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers, and Cam Newton—is stepping over the line. And I find it particularly hard to believe that the Saints were the only ones doing this.
I’m not trying to accuse any other team, but who’s to say that this wasn’t a popular notion all around the NFL? The commissioner’s office must investigate the rest of the league, and I believe they will.
As unfortunate as it is—especially considering the fact that it involves such a feel-good story like the New Orleans Saints and their Super Bowl victory—I believe we’re just seeing the beginning of “Bountygate.”
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