NFL's Perception Vs. Reality In "Bounty Gate"

*Disclaimer - My opinion is not a popular one and does not reflect the views of the rest of the writers at TSFJ*

If you haven’t heard by now, the NFL passed down major disciplinary actions among those involved in “BountyGate”. Saints head coach Sean Payton received a one-year suspension and former-Saints-now-Rams-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely by the league for their roles in paying players for tackles, INTs and critical hits on opposing players (memo to Williams: Go home and be a family man.. it’s over for you).

Let me get this out of the way real quick just so we have an understanding- Bounties are illegal in the NFL and as a result, they’re wrong. I don’t condone them and I’m not making any excuses for those who were involved. But that’s as far as I go. I completely disagree with Payton’s lengthy suspension and other Saints officials, and believe that the NFL has come down extremely hard on him to feed into a perception they want us to believe in. Allow me to explain.

There have been many people that came to me via Twitter saying that this is about player safety values. In comparing Bill Belichick’s “Spygate” to “BountyGate”, many people have said that while Spygate was “just cheating”, BountyGate is about the safety of the players and they could ultimately end their careers. Well, you can get the f*ck on with that logic save that excuse for someone else because I'm not buying it. If you missed the memo, football is a contact sport. A violent one, at that.  There’s no way to get around it. The NFL doesn’t care about player safety anymore than you do. May I remind people this is the same NFL that wants to expand the football season for 2 extra games, even after players have been verbally opposed to this idea, given the violent nature of their jobs. With 2010 being a season to remember in concussions, the NFL still wanted to put your favorite players at risk by adding 2 more games in which they needed to sacrifice their bodies, all to hoist the Lombardi trophy. This is also the same league that until recently sold DVDs called, "The NFL's Greatest Hits". A great hit meant a spotlight on a popular DVD that the league profits from. So that point is moot. They don’t care about player safety, but it’s the perception that the league wants us to have and many of us go with that.

The reality is simple.  This is about power. The Saints were warned to stop with the bounties and they ignored them. When they didn’t, the league wanted them to make sure they’d send a message to them, along with every other team in the league by coming down hard to make an example.

In addition to the confirmation of power, I believe this is also about the money handed over in the bounties. The NFL cannot capitalize off of side bets. Teams have salary cap requirements for a reason. Side bets are off the record. The NFL is a billion-dollar institution so they want record of every single thing teams/players do from a financial standpoint. One could say, maybe this isn’t about money, because the NFL is one of the most successful business in the world and you’d be right. But no running institution likes any employee getting side money they don’t know about. Ever tried to file taxes without that Xmas job W-2? If you did, I promise you, the IRS will make you pay. The NFL’s stance is no different.

Let’s be honest here, the New Orleans Saints probably isn’t even in your Top 10 list of defenses that deserved the most flags for unsportsmanlike hits on players. The issue I have with the severity of the penalty is that, majority of their hits weren’t deemed illegal on the field, meaning there weren’t an abundance of flags being thrown. If there’s record of such, then they need to be penalized to the max. But if their tackles were legal, how much punishment should one really receive? If we want to make this a morality issue than so be it, but the Saints weren’t known to blow anybody up on a consistent basis to turn heads. The reason why this is an issue to begin with is because someone told, not because their amount of penalty flags were out of hand.

My son has mainly played defense since he started playing flag football at 6 years old. From the time my son was 7, he was rewarded for every big tackle, INT or sack he’s done, in one way or another. From Pop Warner, all the way to college football, players have been getting stickers on their helmets for as long asI  can remember. What do you think defensive players get stickers for?? To stand there and look pretty?? Maybe to keep their jerseys nice and clean?? It’s because they made outstanding plays on the field and those stickers were a show of reward and/or appreciation for their accomplishments. That’s the life of the football player. Instead of stickers, the Saints players received cash. Is it right? No and especially not to the degree of wanting to knock a player out and needing medical help to get off the field. But until a player physically does something illegal on the field, I have a hard time swallowing such a pill that Payton received today. Payton is paying for his coach, his players, and every other player/team in the league that’s ever done such a thing.

As much as I love football and the NFL, I’m a firm believer in calling a spade, a spade. And NFL, you’re a big, black spade! This isn’t about integrity, player safety or any of that. This is about grabbing your manhood and showing people that what you say, goes and ignoring you brings in major consequences. THAT’S what this is about.

15 Replies to “NFL's Perception Vs. Reality In "Bounty Gate"”

  1. *thunderous claps*

    In my head last night, I compared the NFL and this bounty thing to safe sex. For the longest, the NFL (like you said) lauded in their hits and sold those greatest Hits DVDs, even forcing ESPN to have a segment on their Countdown show dedicated to said hits. It's like walking into every man & chick without a condom, oblivious to the risks.

    Then, all your old partners start coming down with symptoms of things and start educating you on condoms and the like and up until somebody dies from such things do you start taking it seriously. The Saints were the last boyfriend you had and fell in love with because of a number of things but people will either cite Katrina or the Brees/Bush/Payton offense (the latter makes more football sense anyway). So, as the years progress, the boyfriend gets to go raw, even getting a baby out of it i.e. the Super Bowl but once all those old partners come up saying - "We're going to sue you for not being safe!" the bomb drops when you keep egging the Saints to use a rubber.

    Needless to say, the Saints didn't give up the freedom of rawdogging and the NFL like the bitter GF who wants to look good no matter WHAT happens in a relationship - cut the Saints head off and why did the NFL get THAT bitter?

    Cause the boyfriend lied to her face.

  2. Very nice work my friend.

    I think the NFL has been cooking, eating, and selling their cake for a long time. Yesterday was just an exclamation point. I'm curious to see how Goodell will punish players because I think he made it clear that he will in his NFL Network live interview.

    David Stern I'm sure gave him a standing ovation.

  3. great article,

    this was another way of King Goddell to show his higher level subjects they are not absolved of being "beheaded." We all knows he enforces player related issues with an iron fist but no one knew if he would operate the same way with coaches and we just found out HE WILL... New Orleans was his whipping boy to tell the rest of the league that he is aware that things like this go on and that there will be harsh punishments if you are caught.

    Still knowing all this, I dont feel sad for New Orleans. Payton is doing his best Jim Tressell impersonation and just like sweatervest, he had to pay the piper. The NFL gave them a chance to police the situation on their own (and Im actually shocked we as fans/media never got wind of the first investigation) but when they didnt they should have expected something to take place, and then to lie about it, was even worse. The cover-up was far worse than the crime...

    One or two things will happen; teams will completely rid themselves of practices like this or players will do a better job of concealing how they reward teammates for laying the smackdown. I wonder what side of the tracks your favorite team will stand on???

  4. Your view may not reflect all the TSFJ writers, but it sure as hell reflects mine. Going a bit further than just power, I think it also has to do with culpability. The NFL knows that at one point or another, law suits are coming regarding player health, so good old Roger wants to come down hard nowadays on things like this so the NFL can say, "Look, we suspended all these guys because of player safety."

    You're right, they don't really care about player safety, but now with it being such a hot-button issue, they care about being perceived as caring about player safety. The Saints were made examples of because it. Craziness.

  5. Excellent

    Rev is correct. This is a purely political move designed to insulate the NFL from criminal charges. Bounties have been around for ages but now the NFL is skittish. Many occupations carry the risk of physical harm (construction worker, fireman, policeman, coal miner, rooting against the Ravens in front of Syreeta) but the worker is protected from unnecessary and senseless risk. A bounty goes beyond the normal risk associated with the job and into the realm of paying someone to do physical harm to another person, which is a crime.

  6. *Standing Ovation* I was just having a conversation on Twitter about this. Wish I had read this first I would have just linked them here.

    Very well said lady I agree with every word! Well done!

  7. David Stern backs up Mr Goodell 100%

    I Think the most shocking issue is that Saints are not the MOST FLAGGED team for illegal hits....meaning it's been mostly legal hits. So how can you punish for legal hits?

    Why don't the NFL just man the F up and say "Hey we want a piece of the SideBets"

  8. *nods* this situation reminds me of the NBA referee scandal a few years back. You are exactly right. This is PR and lesson teaching at its finest in pro sports. The only thing worse is when the NCAA "cracks down" on school for illegal behavior but I digress.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion as the NFL and the NCAA continues its mantra of "Do as I Say...Not as I do."

    P.S. - VLEOBER is right about David Stern...

  9. So right. The NFL won't address when a player like Tom Brady buys his entire offensive Line Rolexes for protecting him all season. Front end or back end incentive to play hard is just that. NFL if your cleaning up clean in ALL up..

  10. i agree that the nfl has other motives for putting the hammer down so forcefully on the head of the saints...

    ...but it is their right to do so. sean payton lied, starting with lying to the owner of his team (the man who signs his checks), and he put the entire saints business in jeopardy. as you correctly point out, under-the-table payments done in the workplace with management's full blessing is such a huge IRS no-no that i can't believe anyone would risk such a problem.

    no doubt that the saints will get a letter from the IRS asking for payroll records once these players have been identified. and with what the IRS calls, "willful non-compliance", the penalties assigned to the saints, their payroll department officers, and the individual players will also be significant.

    sean payton does not have the right to live inside his own world of self-aggrandizement at the expense of the entire team and saints organization.

    commissioner goodell told him to stop. payton did not. and he got busted for it big time.

    he has no one to blame but himself. true, the nfl once had "greatest hits" videos coming out every year. but they don't now. espn used to have the "jacked up!" feature, but they were told to stop it (and they did).

    tony dorsett & jim mcmahon's cardinal argument is that the league knew what was happening with concussions long ago, yet did nothing about it despite decades of evidence. payton will be witness numero uno to explain why he felt that nothing would happen to him as head coach even if he ignored goodell's directions to stop the bounties.

    what's payton gonna do? lie in federal court? take the fifth? he's already toast if that case makes it to trial. i doubt he will be back as saints coach.

    the nfl's quack doctor who used to be in charge of the nfl's brain injury committee, dr. elliot pellman, can be used as exhibit "A" to prove that the league went out of its way to hide the truth. goodell hss to counter the damaging testimony that guy will give, assuming he doesn't take the fifth himself.

    for, goodell is many things, but he's no dummy. seeing the writing on the wall, he asked all teams that were identified having bounties, to stop doing so in that the league can at least walk into court with a straight face. and those teams did stop, the 2007 green bay packers in particular.

    all except for this knucklehead saints team, who went on and kept doing it even when the owner tom benson told them to stop. and that's why goodell came down so hard on them, because he can't give tony dorsett & jim mcmahon the slightest impression that sean payton was correct in not taking goodell mandate seriously.

    if a coach is so far gone that he's gonna ignore his owner and commissioner, and do whatever the heck he wants, then he's wide open for heavy duty retribution. it's goodell's job to protect the league, a league that's gone on just fine before sean payton came to town, and will go on just fine without him, at least if goodell has anything to say about it.

    and he does, as sean payton found out.

    things have escalated beyond sean payton's insulated world. he found out the hard way, and he is suffering for his self-centered blindness.

  11. there is a difference between gifts, such as rolex watches, and gambling proceeds that are based on varying degrees of injury.

    sean payton received an email where a guy who doesn't play on the team said that he himself had $5000 that a particular injury play would occur. true, it's not pit bulls in virginia, but it sure sounds like gambling to me.

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