Friday, April 6, 2012

NFL Bountygate: More Truth, Less Outrage

I understand the outrage by folks outside of sports, but for everyone that is a NFL fan, you knew this was happening didn't you?  None of this is shocking.  Sure the audio brings it home just how straightforward the direction was to "test" players and attempt to get guys out of games.  It's just that none of this is surprising at all, every NFL player I have heard talk about it has said that they are not only not shocked, but have pretty much all stated that they have heard speeches just like this.  I understand Derrick posted yesterday about how in his opinion Gregg Williams was a "piece of garbage", but I have to disagree that this video proves it  He probably is a piece of garbage, but this video isn't the proof,  I think he is just a normal NFL coach (who maybe a completed d-bag, I don't know).

Others, including the NFL, agree with Derrick and are making Gregg Williams and the Saints the devil.  In reality the entire NFL is like this, and likely college football and high school as well.  Is the real question underlying all of this feigned outrage by the NFL just a fear that their billion dollar business is built upon this very same mentality that Williams preaches?

The NFL just needs to admit that you are likely going to suffer an injury that may end your career, shorten your life, lessen your quality of life or just kill you when playing in our league and the player(s) that gave you those injuries were likely trying to hurt you.  It's not like this isn't already known, .  I think just being honest about the brutality of this game, and not acting like another stupid rule making it a 15 yard penalty for brushing a pinkie against a quarterback's head when trying to block a pass is going to make a difference.  It isn't going to change the fact that on every tackle, of every football game, at any level, the defensive player is trying to hit the offensive player as hard as possible.  When hitting someone as hard as possible, it doesn't matter if you are doing it with the intention of hurting the other player or just trying tackle him, your coached to hit him as hard as possible.

Admit that, just like boxing and the UFC is open with the fact that they are trying to actually make the opposing fighter become unconscious and if successful at that, they win.  If they fail in knocking their opponent out, it goes to scorecards in which judges then look at who landed the best punches/kicks.  Punches and kicks meant to knock the other guy out, guy who lands the most, wins.  Just like in football, you have a scoreboard that shows who did better at eluding the violent hits of their opponent and moving the ball into the endzone while in turn laying more violent hits on the opponent when they attempted to elude them, preventing them from reaching the endzone as much.

Not that UFC and boxing don't come without their own level of scrutiny, but at least they are being honest about it.  Pregame interview a boxer/UFC fighter says, "I am going to try to knock the other dude out."  Everyone says, "Yup, good plan." Gregg Williams says to his defense, "Your goal is to knock the other team out, so we can win."  He gets suspended indefinitely.  Do you see the disconnect?  Same goals, but boxing and UFC just being more out in the open and not being governed by hypocrites (at least about this part of the sport).

The NFL players aren't all that concerned about "Bountygate", the NFL itself is, but not because they are actually concerned about player safety.  They know the big hits and violent play is what brings the excitement for their millions of fans with their millions of dollars.  Textbook leg tackles (without popping ACLs) aren't replayed on Jerry Jones gazillion dollar stadium big screen.  It's the brain blasting, neck snapping, laying a dude the f-out, blind side sack by Demarcus Ware that gets replayed in the stadium, on NFL Network, on ESPN, FoxSports and spread all over the internet by bloggers (LIKE ME!!!) via YouTube.  The NFL knows this, but needs to put on this charade of caring about the guy on the receiving end of that revenue generating hit so that the class action lawsuits, that are already piling up, from former players (who no longer can walk, recognize their family members or be in bright lights long due to skull splitting migraines) don't start making too much of a dent in their revenue.

The NHL needs to already begin it's own counter attack towards allegations like "Bountygate".  There isn't a doubt in my mind that there has already been bounties placed on guys like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and others.  You don't think coaches are reminding players when playing against Pittsburgh to try to knock the shit out of Crosby every chance they get, to hopefully knock out the fragile concussion laden head of the best player in hockey?  You know it is happening, Crosby knows it is happening and it is accepted until someone gets a tape of a speech saying, "knock the shit out of Crosby," and puts it on YouTube.

Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams and Vernon Davis knew what was coming at them when they took the field (willingly) to take on the Saints in the playoff game.  They knew the Saints weren't going out there trying to make tackles with the least amount of punishment possibly needed to get the job done and get them to the ground.  You take the field, you know you're putting yourself in line of opposing players looking to hit you as hard as they physically can on each and every play.  It's is your job to use your abilities and get help from your teammate's to prevent them from landing the devastating hits.  Just like a boxer needs to use his feet and quickness to avoid haymakers.  Just like Georges St-Pierre needs to keeps his hand ups and guard his head against roundhouse kicks to his skull.  Just like Sidney Crosby needs to keep his head on a swivel at all times on the ice, in order to avoid a monster check that could put him out for another significant amount of time with concussion symptoms.

Now don't let all of this sound like I am against the NFL continuing to promote the hits and violence of this game.  I love all of it.  I am guilty as everyone else of tuning in and rooting my team on to take the head off of the opposing quarterback.  Unfortunately for the NFL, the cash cow is going to have to start squirting a lot more money to it's retired players out of it's utters if it expects the lawsuits to ever stop.  The game has only gotten progressively more violent over the years, so subsequently the life long injuries are only going to progressively become more severe in numbers and in the injuries themselves.  

I don't have the answers for the NFL, it is a tough situation to be in.  You have to show outrage at this mentality, even though you know it is more prevalent than anyone wants to admit.  It sucks that the NFL has to act like they are trying to make slight changes to the game in the name of "player safety" knowing full well that if you make it "too safe", your game is no longer as exciting and likely then, not the leading professional sport in America.  Sucks to be them, and any decisions they make, I and others like me will rip them.

The only answer I can come up with is, like in many things, this: BE TRUTHFUL!  Just ask Bobby  Tell the truth from the beginning and you save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.  It maybe not the prettiest truth in the world that the NFL needs to tell, but it needs to be told:

"This is a violent sport.  If you play you run the risk of serious injury, even possible death.  Coaches (like Gregg Williams) are going to coach players to be as violent as possible, and get away with as much as they can get away with within the rules of our game.  They may not all be as big of douche bags as Gregg Williams, but even if they don't put it as bluntly (caveman blunt) as Williams, they are implying it. Your life and physical well being will likely be affected long after you play your last NFL game even if every hit on you is legal.  We will instill rules to best keep you safe while still allowing the game to pretty damn brutal."  The biggest change from the current NFL and maybe the toughest thing for the NFL to concede will be this part: "After you retire, we recognize that it was your employment with the NFL that causes most of your health issues and because of that we will help you with medical costs for the rest of your life."  - Signed the NFL

The players will still do everything they can to still play in the NFL and to take the risk of injury for the glory, the game and the not too shabby paycheck.  The fans will still pile in to watch the players.  The revenue will still come in.  It will just maybe be a bit less revenue, due to owning up to your responsibility to the past players that help build your cash stream.  Own up to it now NFL, or you maybe buried by a flock of lawyers and lawsuits that will be looking to take out your ACL, only they will be going for your knees with no fear of a yellow flag or suspension.


  1. The real issue I had was Williams saying "I got this" referring to paying for the cheap shots. That's bush league and though you make good points about this going on all over the league and In other sports, I think Williams took it too far telling his players to hit guys in the head that had previous conclusion issues. If I was coaching against Williams I'd tell my players to hit him in the man boobs.

  2. Concussion not conclusion

  3. Yeah I get the bluntness in which Williams delivered the message, pointing out to take out ACLs and test concussions can be a bit shocking to hear. But when I've heard other ex-NFL Players talk about it, they say they've heard the same speech throughout their careers. As for the payments, it doesn't make much difference to me either. 1) It is happening everywhere. 2) They are being payed millions of dollars within their contracts to go out and make the biggest hit possible, which as a result can cause serious injury, and that is just the pure nature of the game. The bigger the hit the better, even when it is completely within the rules. I just think it is silly to try to pretend that teams playing against Tom Brady aren't out there trying to lay his ass out as much as possible with the hope he has to leave the game, so that they then can more easily win the game. Money or no money, the competitive spirit will bring that thought process out in a violent game like football.