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Cash for crushing hits

Cash for crushing hits

Think of it as similar to the speech class that most college students dread, only on a much larger scale. Instead of a single classroom with 25 students and an instructor, there are students from 13 schools using dozens of classrooms with judges instead of instructors.

If you worked in a profession that glorified violence, and your main job was to inflict acts of violence towards the opposition, wouldn’t you like to be recognized for your especially vicious acts?  Better yet, wouldn’t you like to get paid a little extra something on the side, too?

I ask those questions because it has come out in the past week that the New Orleans Saints’ former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had a bounty system in place while he was at New Orleans.

The system works like this: Players fine each other for being late for meetings, mistakes in practice, etc.  The money goes into a collection.

Then if a player made an especially violent play or had a good game in general, the other players would give them a payout of around $1,000.

Williams endorsed this program, and others in the organization knew about it, all the way up to team owner Tom Benson.

Bounty programs are  widespread in the NFL and have been for a while.  They’ve filtered down to the college ranks as well, most notably at Miami University, where boosters have run bounty programs since the program’s heyday in the early 1980s.

These bounty programs don’t bother me because I realize that football is a violent game.  In a violent culture, which football is, things like this don’t make anyone flinch.  Former players have spoken out on this issue in the past week, and the consensus seems to be, “Yeah, this happens, it’s part of the game.”

Hell, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, president Dana White is open about his bounty system.

For pay-per-view events, he has standing cash payouts for fight of the night, submission of the night and knockout of the night, among others.  At UFC 144, Anthony Pettis went home with an extra $65,000 for securing the knockout of the night.

What bothers me about the NFL’s bounty issue is the hypocrisy that will most likely ensue in the next week.  Now, bounties in the NFL are against the rules, and the Saints will most likely be punished.

But commissioner Roger Goodell will most likely take this opportunity to say how the NFL is trying to make the game safer, how they’re figuring out the concussion issue, blah blah blah.

What would make players safer would be playing fewer games, or having more rest in general.  But Goodell was a big supporter of moving to an 18-game season during the most recent lockout negotiations because more games mean more money.

Recently, the NFL has been trying to separate itself from the violent aspects of its sport.

Things like former players dying at 40 from head injuries sustained during playing careers or players going insane and killing themselves from those same
injuries are bad PR for the league.

If this sounds like news to you, it’s because the NFL really doesn’t want you to know about it.  They’re trying to cover it up because frankly, it looks bad if all your former players turn into vegetables from playing your sport.

What the NFL doesn’t seem to realize is that you can’t separate the violence from the sport.

Players are getting bigger, faster, stronger and there’s really nothing you can do about it.  All you can really do is tell players to avoid hitting with their heads, but that’s about it.

There are also plenty of people who tune in on Sundays for the violence, like the NFL is a modern-day gladiator competition, with Lambeau Field serving as the Colosseum.  If you try to sanitize the sport, you risk losing those paying customers who watch for the violence.

At the end of the day, football will always be a violent sport, and the players know that.  They know the risks they take when they play, and they accept them.  We
should, too.

We shouldn’t try to make these players who participated in bounties look like savages. We don’t live in their culture of violence, so we don’t know what it’s like.

If you have a problem with the violence, go watch golf.

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