Injuring the sport

Disgraceful NFL bounty scandal deserves punishment

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There’s often a huge difference between the big story and the most important story.

The big story in the National Football League this week has been the much-anticipated release of quarterback Peyton Manning by the Indianapolis Colts. There’s a good reason it’s a big story: Manning is inarguably one of the greatest passers and field generals of all time – and for the first time since he was drafted No. 1 by the Colts in 1998, he’s on the open market.

On Wednesday, after Manning’s year of sidelines and surgeries, the Colts – 2-14 last year without him, and expected to draft his replacement in young, can’t-miss prospect Andrew Luck of Stanford – released him to avoid a scheduled $28 million bonus payment.

Yes, a big story. Football is America’s most popular spectator sport, the quarterback is the most important single position in any team sport – and, again, Peyton Manning is factually one of the best to ever suit up for the job.

But the more important NFL story this week is clearly the “bounty” scandal surrounding the New Orleans Saints’ franchise.

The league has confirmed that the Saints had a bounty system in recent years in which defensive players were actually paid bonuses under the table for intentionally injuring opposing players enough to get them off the field.

This is so wrong and so injurious to the game and the league that there is little danger of overstating the case.

First, even in a sport involving as much physicality and controlled violence as professional football, one would think that the intentional act of causing significant bodily harm – particularly if it involves acts outside the rules of the game – would constitute a crime.

Regardless, it is nothing less than a scandal that some athletes would target opposing players – not just to cause pain, which is part of football, but to inflict
actual injury, enough to render the other player incapable of plying his trade.

Worse yet, the coaches not only encouraged it, but paid bonuses for it. Gregg Williams, then-Saints defensive coordinator and now with the St. Louis Rams, oversaw the bounty operation with the knowledge of head coach Sean Payton, the league says.

“It was a terrible mistake. And we knew it was wrong while we were doing it,” Williams admits.

We hope the league office and the 32 team owners understand the gravity of this disgrace and the potential for further harm to the game if not dealt with in the harshest terms at their disposal. Besides everything else above, the league also needs to realize that some of the targeted players for injury are also what makes the league the most popular in the sporting world: the quarterbacks, such as the recently retired Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.

And, yes, Peyton Manning.

Players who participated in the illegal bounty scheme should be suspended multiple games; coaches too. Fact is, we’re not sure Williams – who allegedly also used bounties at a former job with the Washington Redskins – should ever coach in the league again. The team itself can, and should be, docked a future draft pick.

This team wanted hard hits and injuries? Well, what goes around comes around. The league needs to hit this team hard, and cause a little injury.

Comments (18) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 06:12 am
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You bunch of wimpy

You bunch of wimpy editorialists who could never make the football team. It's as bad as the sports' editor writing about how he will never let his kids play football because it's unsafe. What do y'all want, to have kids being skinny distance runners where their testosterone is deficient? As John Madden said, "Football is a violent game, played by violent men."

About quarterbacks getting hurt, big deal. They are players, too. Not too long ago they were fair game and could actually be hit. Now there's about a six inch place in the front where you can touch them...and don't do it too hard. It makes former QB's like Joe Namath even more amazing. They took the hits or avoided them. Football is the American game. It's war, not watching Billy run miles with his cute little water bottle in his hand.

draksig
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draksig 03/09/12 - 06:37 am
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While football is a violent

While football is a violent game played by violent people, that is much different than going out there with the intention of injuring someone, perhaps even a career ending injury. Enough players get injured in legal hits.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 06:52 am
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I never once made a tackle or

I never once made a tackle or a block where my intention wasn't to knock the player into never-never land. Do y'all think you tackle and block mildly?

DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 03/09/12 - 07:23 am
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The bounty story is so over

The bounty story is so over dramatized it makes the players sound like bloodsport gladiators. It is a rough game played with dynamic rules that provide certain "off-limits" restrictions. Drama. Just something else for ESPN radio and newspaper editors to talk about. Scandle.....no.

scoopdedoop64
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scoopdedoop64 03/09/12 - 09:16 am
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I would disagree duhjudge. I

I would disagree duhjudge. I don't think it is over dramatized at this point. Yes, I agree that players are trained to hit hard but it is different trying disable a guy that you are aiming at one spot that will break a bone or cause a concussion. I don't want them to make witch hunt of all this but certainly "knock Out" the bounty stuff!

allhans
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allhans 03/09/12 - 12:42 pm
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I don't believe that Riverman

I don't believe that Riverman intentionally hurt a player. He might have knocked him flat but he would have been sick if he had broke a leg or worse.
Paying to do damage to another person is not a good thing. A takedown is one thing, a takeout is different ) -:

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 12:52 pm
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Allhans, I intentionally

Allhans, I intentionally knocked the snot out of opposing players. Takedowns are in wrestling. Hitting players so hard that by the 4th quarter they don't want to play so hard is FOOTBALL. The chant on my SC highschool team that almost won the conference championship, but was beaten 23-21 by Walterboro on a high school field goal with 3 seconds to go (think it bothers me to this day?) in the championship game was "Blood, blood, blood." We were bad and took no prisoners. Do you really think any high school, college or pro coach says, don't hurt the opposing players? This editorial was written by the parents of fanny packing distance runners.

allhans
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allhans 03/09/12 - 01:09 pm
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You haven't convinced me you

You haven't convinced me you wanted blood. No way.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 01:14 pm
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How about snot knocked out of

How about snot knocked out of the opposing players' noses?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 05:27 pm
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I guess y'all don't want to

I guess y'all don't want to talk about boxing either. I used to do that, too, and the objective was to coldcock the other guy. Not only did you want to knock them down, you wanted to hit them so hard they couldn't get up....a knockout.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 03/09/12 - 05:33 pm
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RM..Did you coldcock many

RM..Did you coldcock many guys?

seenitB4
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seenitB4 03/09/12 - 05:39 pm
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allhans....why do you think

allhans....why do you think these guys get millions of $$$....it is a tough-brutal game BUT people want to watch it....just like days ago when the lions were in the arena....people wanted to watch that too..

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 05:45 pm
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SeenIt, my greatest success

SeenIt, my greatest success boxing is I used to spar regularly with a friend who turned pro. He had a few fights and hung it up. Neither of us was good enough for people to pay to see us fight. Heh.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 05:49 pm
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But this football thing.

But this football thing. Because I played I have fantasies to this day of running the ball for Clemson. I go to sleep many nights thinking I should have gone to Clemson as a walk-on and tried.

Y'all worried about brutality in football. Did you see the ESPN move, The Junction Boys about Bear Bryant at Tex A&M? Now THAT was brutality and Bear is now a certified saint.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 03/09/12 - 05:56 pm
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Coulda-woulda

Coulda-woulda shoulda--goodnight RM
:)...ya been funny--had me laughing ALLDAY..thanks

Riverman1
89986
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 06:01 pm
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I just want to see football

I just want to see football given the respect it deserves. Sure it's tough. It's supposed to be. Summer practice is like throwing high school kids in a raging fire for a few weeks in the GA-SC heat and humidity.

I went in the Army as an enlisted man and later became an officer after enduring some rigorous training. But after playing high school football I knew I could do it. Football instills that ability to endure and believe in yourself. They put a helmet on me and threw me in the pugil stick battles in Army training. It was a snap having a helmet on again and doing contact sports. Really, football is an education for life like no other.

Riverman1
89986
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Riverman1 03/09/12 - 06:10 pm
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My favorite football player

My favorite football player of all time is Jack, They Call Me the Assassin, Tatum. He played for Ohio State and the Oakland Raiders. He hit so hard he actually killed someone with a tackle. Coach Jim Tressel at Ohio State just a few years ago started the "Jack Tatum Hit of the Week Award," given to the player who had the hardest hit in a game. That kind of goes back to this editorial, doesn't it?

Jake
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Jake 03/09/12 - 07:47 pm
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Some folks are just legends

Some folks are just legends in their own minds, I guess. I played high school football for Denny Leonard at Aquinas in the mid 60's. It was a good experience for me even though we lost a lot more than we won. You learned to play hurt, try your hardest to play your best but never was hurting an opposing player a goal on our team.
I also like hard hitting football (James Harrison style) but nowadays in the NFL there are rules about how you can hit and the rules must be followed. The Saints should be punished severely, of course being a Falcon fan has nothing to do with my thinking (wink, wink, nod, nod, say no more).

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