Roger Goodell – Mutiny On The Bounty?

I have seen a ton of articles already about the National Football League reporting defensive guru Gregg Williams was using a “bounty system” while employed by the New Orleans Saints.  He has been asked to visit league offices to discuss their security department findings on this subject.

Predictably, stories have appeared thereafter this was a recurring theme at other places Williams was employed previously.

Less predictable is each NFL fan’s reaction to all this.  I guess it depends on your willingness to accept how football “works” in the real world…combined with your outlook for how it should “work.”

Many of us, including yours truly, took great exception to Commissioner Goodell’s recent attempts to police violence within the game of professional football.  It wasn’t enough for him to regulate off-the field behavior.  Within six months of assuming his mantle, a Personal Conduct Policy was already pushed into place and Goodell proceeded to play Judge, Jury and Executioner in all sorts of situations players and coaches found themselves in…outside the lines.

And while it seemed a little rushed…fine…fines and suspensions for these instances.  The Commissioner should be looking out for the best interests of the game outside the lines.  Publicity from multiple arrests, felony convictions…even spying on other teams…all things you would probably expect and hope the “big guy” would rule upon…iron fist as needed.

The irony is in the last couple of years, Roger let this power go to his head and he incorrectly decided to fix something that wasn’t wrong – the essence of the game – putting your opponent on the ground in any way possible.

A terrible, fatal mistake going inside the lines.

Violence is something the NFL and its fans have always “had both ways,” especially now that pro football is the biggest business/entertainment entity there is.  Hits are a hit.

The league wishes its stars could be on the field all the time.  The league’s broadcast partners would like to make that a reality.  But that’s just…not…possible.  Football is a sport where you know a player season (or career)…a team’s season (or future)…can end on one play.  That’s always been the case and that always will be the case.  No matter how you feel on this “bounty issue” rearing its ugly head this week, while it isn’t pretty to look at two facts can’t be disputed…one, there will always be players looking to take their opponent not only to the ground but off the field…two, there will always be players willing to wager among themselves who got the biggest hit…the most important hit.

Oh wait, there’s a third fact that can’t be disputed…as we find from hearing former disciples of Williams “check in” now…there have always been “bounty systems.”  Here in Philadelphia, Buddy Ryan’s first name might as well have been “Bounty” when he coached here back in the day.  The kind of activity being outlined is not “news,” no matter how much people want to sensationalize it.   The league has tried to keep players and teams from condoning it.  Yet, money is a great motivator.  Lots of highly paid players have often said they helped “support” lesser-paid teammates by incentivizing their play, particularly on special teams.

However, Roger Goodell has a really, really big problem on his hands…of his own doing.  Attaching a halo to his head before hitting the film room every Tuesday during the season, he has recently been deciding for all of us which hits have malicious and/or dangerous intent and which have not…in the process forcing coaches and players to read the tea leaves from his fluid rulings and try to re-learn their craft…their rules.  He has actively been trying to cater and fulfill the unrealistic wishes of NFL broadcast partners to try to keep everyone in one piece all year long…like football players are stars of television series who always are guaranteed to appear in each episode…each season.

But “Righteous Roger” can’t push this bounty/violence thing too much.  He’s going to hand down hefty fines and suspensions, wagging his finger in every camera’s direction and issuing multiple PR memos…but he’s first and foremost going to meet with all concerned and get them to sign away their rights to push back on his eventual rulings first.

He can’t let this get to a court room.  Just can’t.

If he makes too big a deal of this and tries to take away too much money and the reasonable ability to earn a living from Williams…or any of the players involved for that matter…lawyers will be lined up around the block to work for free just for the free publicity that will come from all the resulting law suits.

Can you imagine the NFL trying to deny in a court of law they don’t use violence, or violent images, to actively promote their sport?

He also has to navigate the financial aspects of his security department’s “revelations.”  Yes, these guys make a ton of money and the amounts talked about here are pocket change…but any income they gain from employment with the knowledge of their employer…outside of their contract…is apparently a big no-no.

In other words, getting compensated for breaking a knee cap is circumventing the league salary cap.

Oh, and there’s the matter of unreported taxable income, regardless of the amounts.

IRS on Line 1.

Football is a violent game with violent people playing it.  Roger went inside the lines and tried to tinker with the essence of the sport.  Like most folks who fail to take care and stay outside the lines when football is played, he just voluntarily took a big hit.

Many coaches, players and fans already are disenchanted with his meddling in the essence of football.  This latest “news” wouldn’t be as big of a controversy if he hadn’t dabbled in fixing something not broken in the first place.

If he doesn’t navigate these rising, rough seas appropriately, he may very well have a mutiny…on the bounty.

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8 Responses to Roger Goodell – Mutiny On The Bounty?

  1. Very well said, sir, as always.

    I agree with you. And if I had to predict what would happen here, I’ll say Williams takes the brunt of it and that’s it. Maybe a slap on the wrist for the Saints, a draft pick or two max.

    As we all know, the NFL has to walk the fine line of ensuring its players safety while simultaneously ensuring the sport is still violent enough for fans to watch.

    It’s not an easy job but for $20 million a year, I’d give it a shot.

    I’ll reserve you a seat in my cabinet.

    • Thank you, Chris. I appreciate it. I also appreciate having a seat reserved in your cabinet. Back at ya. It is nice not being “out on an island” on this subject. I know it is a hard line but it is a hard sport. Seeing some articles about how the NFL should ban Williams and the players for life, punish the Saints organization severely, etc. I think people forget what this game is all about. I know Roger has.

  2. Gregg Williams needs to be concerned with staying out of prison. This is a criminal act, and he should be put in jail.

  3. Joe Munley says:

    “Can you imagine the NFL trying to deny in a court of law they don’t use violence, or violent images, to actively promote their sport?” <—– This is a great point.

    The HOF in Canton has a 'Hard Hits' film being played on a loop for all to ogle. That pretty much says it all, does it not?

    • Garry Cobb played on a National Championship team at USC and had an 11-year career in the NFL as a hard-hitting linebacker. I just heard him on local talk radio this morning say if you want to be really honest about the game of football, there is a bounty on every player every play. I have heard both former and current players – on both sides of the ball – indicate this just isn’t that big a deal…aside from the getting caught part of course.

  4. Blog Surface says:

    It’s sad that Sean Payton might also take the hit for this, but I would have to agree that everyone who ever knew about this and participated should be punished. Hard hits is common in football and still needs to be a focus for players, but the moment there’s money involved, it changes everything. That’s the society we live in, money is the root of all evil and once cash is involved, the hard hit is no longer a hard hit, it’s now a bounty… something that will never ever sound right.

    • I think Roger would be smart to “smooth out” his punishment so it goes from Williams through Payton up to the GM and on to ownership (since everyone seems to admit they knew of it). It would be good sense to not make Williams a singular scapegoat for all of this. Any precedent you set punishment-wise will mean punishment will need to be increased should someone get caught again. And if the league is going to reach “inside” the game even more, similar situations will likely be unearthed. What will be really fascinating is what he does with the players…

  5. Link to great article by Buzz Bissinger on the “hypocritical outrage against bonuses for injuring players.” http://bit.ly/yt0EHB

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