It’s a sad reality of football — players out to hurt other players in a sport that is already riddled with injuries.
It’s inhumane and a little sick, when you think about it. But when you’re talking about professional players injuring each other and preventing them from earning their paycheck that supports their family, it’s downright cruel.
They weren’t the first (and they probably won’t be the last), but the latest example of this issue seems to be with the New Orleans Saints. It has been alleged that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran a successful bounty system with the Saints’ defense for the last couple years, knocking big-name players (quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner to name a few) out of big games. Williams has admitted that those allegations are true.
Here’s how a bounty system works: every week, the coach will make it known, usually in a discreet manner, which opposing players he wants his defense to take out. Then, each time one of those players is successfully knocked out, the player who executed the big hit will get paid.
Former football players say it happens everywhere. Former Falcons linebacker Coy Wire said it didn’t happen in Atlanta. Maybe I’m naive, but I believe Wire and I don’t think it’s happening everywhere.
Allow me to rant for a second.
The New Orleans Saints are not a franchise that I’ll ever see eye-to-eye with. I’ve never had a good thing to say about any Saints fan I’ve ever run across in the Georgia Dome. They’re not nice people, and my, how they disappear when their team isn’t very good (so, for the first 35 years of their team’s existence).
You can understand why I was disgusted when football fans were leaning towards giving the Saints the tag of “America’s Team” after the madness of Hurricane Katrina.
The latest news doesn’t surprise me at all.
Williams is now running the defense in St. Louis, so I guess we’ll have to see what happens with the Saints’ defense. Do they continue to hit like they’re being paid extra to do so, or do they back off?
Favre says he doesn’t think less of those guys (bounty hunting Saints). Of course, he didn’t say what he thought of them to begin with.
— Gene Wojciechowski (@GenoEspn) March 5, 2012
On Monday, Williams will be meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the league’s findings in their investigation of the Saints. Since the rest of the coaching staff knew of the bounties, as well as the front office of the franchise, I have to imagine other members of the Saints will be called to visit Goodell. Maybe this wouldn’t be a big deal in 1970, but here’s why it means far more in 2012:
We know what head injuries mean. And they are devastating.
Again, I’ve never played organized football in my life, but I have to imagine that you hit someone differently when you’re trying to injure them. If you were going to hit someone in their midsection, you’re going to hit them in the head under Williams’ bounty system. If you were going to wrap up a running back by the ankles, now you’re trying to go for their knee.
And they were doing this for a $1,500 prize. Fifteen. Hundred. Dollars.
That’s one paycheck for someone who’s making $50,000 a year. One. Additionally, doesn’t it cost a player like $25,000 if you’re fined by the NFL for a cheap shot?
How stupid. But then again, I wouldn’t expect anything else from that franchise.