For the past few seasons, the NFL has made player safety their top priority, so when news broke a month ago that the New Orleans Saints, among other programs, were allegedly using a “bounty program” to take out opposing quarterbacks, they needed to take a tough stance.
Today, it appears that the NFL, led by Goodell, is doing precisely that.
Earlier, it was reported that Saints’ head coach, Sean Payton, has received a one-year suspension for his knowledge of and failure to stop the bounty program. Saints’ general manager, Mickey Loomis was given an 8-game suspension and fined $500,000. Assistant coach Joe Vitt received a 6 game suspension a $100,000 fine, while the man allegedly behind the center of it all, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, has been suspended from the league indefinitely.
In addition, the Saints organization as a whole was fined $500,000 and had to forfeit second-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 NLFL Draft.
The penalties are the harshest in NFL history.
But do the punishments fit the “crime”? Are the parties involved deserving of such harsh penalties?
It is Goodell’s job to protect the integrity of the game as well as the livelihood of its players. Using a bounty system as incentive to injure others is not the intent of the sport. True, football is a violent game–hitting is obviously a huge part of it–but intentionally “head-hunting” your opponents for reward takes it a step beyond the scope of the game. A player’s safety should be the No. 1 priority and any system that doesn’t do so undermines the ethical standards of the league and its participants.
Bottom line: As much as we love football, it is, after all, just a game.
Roger Goodell is not messing around, and he is doing the right thing.