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It was just a few weeks ago when the NFL accused the New Orleans Saints of running a bounty system designed to financially reward
injury causing hits on key opposing players. Proven guilty of the charge, the Saints are now scrambling to deal with unprecedented punishments for behavior that can be described as nothing less than appalling.
Facing the music will undoubtedly change the face of the Saints’ franchise as it has come to be known. Punishment for the “crime” proceeds as fallows: suspension of the head coach, a six game suspension of the assistant coach, an indefinite suspension of the defensive coach, and for the first time ever an eight game suspension of the team’s general manager. The team was hit in the pocket-book as well, having been charged with both a $500,000 fine and revocation of its second-round draft picks for this year or next. The players involved are going to feel some pain too.
There were approximately 25 players cited in the initial NFL report but the organization opted to delay the players’ punishment for a later time stating, “There will be a wide range of sanctions and more
investigation is needed”. Whether or not folks agree on the punishment, it seems completely clear that a bounty system both compromises the integrity of the game. It makes the owners, the players, and the fans pay dearly. If it was a system to be proud of, then there would have been no reason to keep it a secret. It seems difficult to feel sorry for any members of the Saints’ franchise. Investigations revealed that payments were made not only for performance but also for injuring key players. Criteria for the cash payouts included hits that either knocked targeted star players completely out of the game or rendered them in need of medical assistance, requiring them to leave the field. The general sources of the funding included payments from Saint’s defensive coach Gregg Williams and various players. To make matters worse, a convicted felon, Mike Ornstein even chipped in to the kitty at one point which reportedly totaled as much as $50,000 at any given time.
Public opinion proclaiming the Saints’ punishment was too harsh seems sparse, but there is some chatter out there that actually ranks the bounty system “crime” as less offensive than NFL gambling shenanigans.
Besides stating the obvious, “Who would ever rank NFL crimes?” the argument ignores the fact that injuring a player to stack the odds for a football game is a gambling crime. At the end of the day is there any argument that both of the “crimes” are, in essence, shamelessly executed for monetary gain?
So how many magic NFL moments in your memory include a key player injury? In my recollection, none. The great moments I think of are the perfect handoff, the 99 yard pass, the perfect catch in the pouring rain, a defensive player’s touchdown, or when the little known player gets off the bench, and has game of his life, winning the game for a team. Magic moments do not come from back door arrangements and intentionally injuring the players that have devoted their whole life to the game. So, sorry, Saints. It is a shame they had to make an example of you, but from where I am standing, it looks like you got what you deserved.