CHICAGO, March 14, 2012 – In recent times in the NFL, more emphasis has been placed on player safety than anything else. Extensive concussion tests are done on the sidelines after almost any injury, and new league rules leave every skill position more unhittable every year. Yes, the National Football League’s days of violence are supposedly almost over, regardless of the gladiators that still bash heads every Sunday.
Unfortunately for this magical kingdom of safety, the evil forces of player bounties have been infiltrating and corrupting what had previously been a safe, wholesome sport (ehem). The New Orleans Saints’ defense supposedly had a bounty system out on the star players of the opposing team, meaning a Saint would get paid for harming someone.
Hopefully the marvelous irony in that doesn’t escape you.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, however, is about to play the role of knight in shining armor and absolutely wreck the Saints next season. We’re talking coaches suspended for half the season, players suspended for longer if they’re still with the team, multiple draft picks being taken away without regret. Think of it as the league’s immune system pounding the tar out of every injury-related illness that comes along.
At least that’s what he should do if he’s serious about cracking down on dangerous plays. No announcements have yet been made regarding possible punishment.
It’s going to get so bad that it’s questionable whether or not the Saints will be able to sustain success over the next few years. This year’s already going to be tough, considering the fact that they lost an All-Pro offensive linemen to free agencyand contract negotiations with their record-breaking quarterback aren’t going well. That and the suspensions will probably add up to a Saints team that would find itself surprised to finish above 9-7.
The worst part of that paltry finish is that you can bet a lung that the Saints won’t have a first round draft pick the year after, if not this year. This news came at a time when the league is putting more effort than ever into keeping players on the field. The Saints knew that, and they continued to put a bounty on players for two more years? They deserve the penalty they’re going to get, which will and should be worse than the $500,000 and $250,000 that Bill Belichick and the Patriots respectively received for videotaping their opponents against league rules.
What the Patriots did was schoolyard cheating. They taped opponents so that they could gain the upper hand at any point in the game, knowing what defensive scheme they’ll be facing on any given play. What the Saints did was a borderline felony. Trying to injure opposing players to the point that they can no longer make a living is beyond intolerable, and fans everywhere should be completely disgusted by this. Not only were the Saints breaking league rules, but they were turning their players into hit men that could have ended a career at any moment.
Football is already a violent enough sport without a 400-pound man trying his hardest to take your knees out. Commissioner Goodell is going to realize that, and when he does, the Saints franchise will need a long time to recover.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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