As more and more information comes out regarding ‘Bountygate’, we came up with some of the determinations and decisions that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will have to face and then impose on the cast of characters and organization who were involved in this whole ‘Pay for Play’ operation.
First, however I want to address all of the football purists out there who say things like, “It’s just part of the game.” Or “Teams have been involved with some sort of ‘Pay for Play’ scheme for decades!” Unfortunately, these comments are totally true, except for one minor detail. It’s wrong and more importantly, illegal.
In fact, the league continues to come out with new ways, every year, to protect players from injury. From what a defensive back can and cannot do to the quarterback, to what a cornerback or safety cannot do to a ‘defenseless’ receiver, Roger Goodell has gone out of his way to find ways to lessen the brutality that professional football can inspire.
This whole ‘Bountygate’ conspiracy, which has now been documented, has been going on within the Saints organization for 3 years now and, with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams at the helm, took place for another 3 years in Washington with the Redskins as well. Was Williams the first to institute this barbaric type of defensive schemes? Probably not. Should he be the last one to orchestrate and authorize such a devious plot against opposing players? Absolutely!
So how will that come to pass? What does the Commissioner have to do to stop or at best minimize these types of prolific and horrific covert actions of other coordinators and/or coaches? He needs to draw a line in the sand and instill a zero tolerance policy for any actions even remotely similar to what was just uncovered by the NFL legal authorities in New Orleans.
Given the actions taken by Goodell after the now infamous ‘Spygate” ordeal a few years back, it’s originator, Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the New England Patriots $250,000. Clearly, ‘Spygate’ was in no way as serious a conspiracy as ‘Bountygate’ because no one was targeted for injury. Given those penalties, this is what the commissioner has to do in order to send his true message of zero tolerance:
Headcoach Sean Payton: $1M He might not have orchestrated the plan but he knew about it and let it continue under his watch.
Owner Tom Benson: $500,000 If you’re thinking he should receive some leniency because after being made aware of this situation he approached General Manager Mickey Loomis and asked him to put a stop to this, then you do not know how to run a business. When something as abhorrent and serious as a ‘Pay for Play’ rule is instituted in your organization, you don’t “ask” your G.M. to stop it. You call a meeting with everyone under your employ and you say, “This stops today!!” If I hear or see that it hasn’t, those individuals will be fired immediately!” That’s what a concerned profesional owner does. Benson didn’t.
General Manager Mickey Loomis– $500,000 This is the man who not only was aware of what was happening, but had every opportunity to stop it after being requested to so by his boss, owner Tom Benson, but decided to look the other way. What example did he set?
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma– Suspension for 6 games. This is a seasoned veteran who should know better. Instead he put up $10,000 for anyone that would hit Brett Favre hard enough to knock him out of a game. The combination of money and lack of playing time would hurt him where it would do the most damage. In society, it’s a felony to pay someone to hurt, maim, or kill another person(s), so why should it be legal in the NFL?
Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams– Suspension from the league for 2 seasons without pay. Seems harsh does it? Well, when you break it down he would realize a 1 year suspension for the three years he practiced this form of ‘paid violence’ in Washington, and 1 year for the three years he did this in New Orleans. Not sure, but with this type of punishment, Williams probably will never do this again…if he’s ever hired again. Ah, but he said he was sorry…well, as ESPN’s Michael Kay’s Dad always said, “Sorrys don’t fix the wheel.”
New Orleans Saints– It would not be unreasonable for the commissioner to punish the franchise by taking away their 1st and perhaps even their 2nd round draft picks in this years NFL draft. The team has hurt their franchise and the NFL. Now it’s time for the Saints to pay for their transgressions.
Roger Goodell and the National Football League have been given a collective black eye in all this controversy. That black eye needs to heal and heal quickly. A slap on the wrist won’t cut it given the offense that was instituted in this case. Bounty hunting, paying someone or a group of people to hurt or injure others purposely , is illegal in sports and in society. It took long enough for this practice to surface and be uncovered. Nip it in the bud Commissioner so it will have less of a chance to reek its ugly head a second time.