Roger Goodell has Blown “Bountygate” Out of Proportion
By Geoff Preston
We took a few weeks to digest the facts, absorb the details and react accordingly as a society. When news of the bounties Gregg Williams put on opposing players broke, former players met the news with a collective shoulder shrug as if to say: “What’s the big deal?” Yet those unfamiliar with NFL locker rooms showed emotions that varied from outraged, to disgust, even to borderline hysterical. It was a culture clash of sorts; those who had been through the trenches and understood the violent nature of the game we all love, knew that those on the outside would never understand, and those on the outside implored former players to make them understand. Both sides could agree on one thing: Roger Goodell was going to come down on the New Orleans Saints and it did not appear he was going to show any mercy.
We now know the fate of the New Orleans Saints. It might be worse than some thought, it might be what a lot of us saw coming. An indefinite suspension for Gregg Williams, one year for Sean Payton, and one year for Mickey Loomis, all on top of a plethora of fines and lost draft picks. Roger Goodell has officially robbed the New Orleans Saints and it has gotten to the point where comrade Goodell has taken his dictatorial power too far.
Bounties exist, and have existed in the NFL, on every team, in every situation, every year. Literally the only difference besides getting caught between the Saints and the Detroit Lions or the Buffalo Bills is that Gregg Williams handed out more money than other teams. He rolls deep, that is all. I understand punishing Williams and Payton. There was a rule in place and those two men broke it, but an entire year? An indefinite suspension? That is far to steep a punishment for something that is not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. I know that this is the classic “someone needs to be made an example of” situation, but that is the exact problem with this entire debacle. No one should ever be made into an example, it’s called justice. Justice is when someone makes a mistake and they are punished according to the crime they committed. Their punishment shouldn’t be increased tenfold because they were the first to get caught.
Every time people act appalled at violence in the NFL, I have to stop to shake my head. Violence is the principle that football is built on. These punishments reflect on the Roger Goodell trend of legislating violence out of the game entirely. This has to stop. No one is foolish enough to support player injuries or to suggest that player safety shouldn’t be of the utmost importance. That is why through gritted teeth I have come to accept the receiver friendly rules that allow a quarterback to throw the ball 40 yards down the field knowing that if the corner even breathes on the receiver a flag could be thrown. This, however, is too much, and don’t confuse this as me being in support of bounties because I am not. All I am saying is that if you seriously think athletes are going to try harder for what might be less than one percent of their yearly salary you need to be checked out. I doubt the bounties even crossed the mind of Saints players during the games. We hear the word “bounty” and lose our minds. The reality is that big plays were rewarded with sums of money that may seem giant to us, but when you make tens of millions of dollars the amounts aren’t even blinked at.
I was on the fence about my opinion of Roger Goodell, but this latest act has cemented his fate in my mind. When your biggest contributions to the game are suspensions instead of things like growth or enhancement of the game, you are not a good commissioner in my opinion. We will see how this affects the Saints organization, but it is very unlikely that is has a positive impact on an organization that has been such a good story for the last few years. This is all because of a classic over reaction. Good job comrade Goodell.