Due to recent scientific data and increased media attention on concussions, hits on defenseless receivers, bounty programs and later-life health side effects, the NFL has started to crack down on football’s brutality. Football is a game that has drastically changed over time, and today’s fans are waiting and watching to see where their favorite sport will end up.
On March 2 of 2012, information was leaked to the media about the New Orleans Saints‘ bounty program. This program offered cash and other rewards for Saints defensive players who could injure opponents, ultimately causing them to leave the game. Apparently, the information was first entrusted to the NFL by a Saints defender in 2010, but the issue was stalled.
The 2009 – 2011 Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams received most of the blame, as the media claimed he was responsible for its initiation and continuation. Already employed by the St. Louis Rams, Williams was indefinitely suspended by the NFL on March 21, 2012. It was not until February 2, 2013 that the suspension was lifted and Williams signed five days later with the Tennessee Titans as a Senior Assistant Defensive Coach.
Williams accepted responsibility for his involvement with the Saints Bounty Program and has pledged to never be involved in a “pay for performance” system again.
On July 5, 2013 the lawsuit filed in May by Barrett Green — a former NFL linebacker — went public. The suit claims that the Washington Redskins and Williams are responsible for Green’s injury that ultimately ended his career. Green believes that since Williams was employed by the Redskins at the time of his injury in 2004, it is also the Redskins’ responsibility to pay reparations.
First off, it is a commonly known fact that bounty programs have existed in some form or another since the creation of football. Today’s attitude of football being a safe game did not exist previous to this millennium.
Players used to hate each other, used to have dedication to their cities and used to want to pour on the pain, so to speak. This attitude also crossed into collegiate and even high school sports. Ask any player of a contact sport, and hurting the opponent has always been desired by a majority of players and coaches. Rivalries have always existed in sports. Synonyms to rivalry include: combat, battle, dogfight, collision, war and strife.
While former Redskins have stated that Williams did offer cash rewards for big hits and special plays, such as a pick-six, there was never any specific targeting of opponent superstars with intention of injury.
This is just a case of a person trying to take advantage of changing social perceptions. There is no telling whether someone is directly responsible for Williams “career-ending” injury — he played in another game that season and once again for the New York Giants in 2005. Williams deserves sympathy for his injury and sympathy that his promising NFL career did not continue. However, the Redskins should not be accountable in any way, shape or form for his injury.
This lawsuit can change the course of football and set precedent for hundreds of other lawsuits. All eyes will be watching, not just Redskins.