Goodell Crosses Line Deciding Saints Did – Be Careful What You Wish For Roger

Readers of this site know I have taken a very low-key approach to the news of the New Orleans Saints‘ “Bountygate” situation.  I have taken the position you would be naive to think this hasn’t been going on elsewhere for ages…it just happened someone actually brought it to light with the wrong guy in charge…or the right guy, depending on your stance.

We can argue about the tentacles of this activity and how far it went “up” the ladder from the locker room to the coaches’ room…how elaborate this “system” was.

But the stunning, historic penalties Roger Goodell announced today…in deciding the Saints crossed a very important line in his mind…cross a much more important one in mine.

Suspensions of this nature have a collateral effect on the innocent as well as the guilty.  These decisions affect an entire franchise and its fans.  They have a domino effect that will impact the upcoming NFL season in a number of ways.

This Commissioner’s body of work has, with lightning-fast speed, proven beyond all doubt he wants his legacy to be the man who sanitized professional football.  He is not just happy with rewriting the eternal rules of hitting and tackling, working to remove the very essence of what most of us enjoy about the game…putting your opponent on the ground as hard, as effectively…and as quickly as possible.

Now he’s reaching into the backrooms of the sport, trying to decide how players can and cannot “get up” for games.  How they get motivated…to do exactly what we like them to do…hit people hard and often.  Violent men play a violent game.  At least that’s how it used to be…

The league has rules about this sort of thing.  So you decide a violation has occurred and make a reasonable ruling.  You do not simultaneously alter the competitiveness of an organization and also set a massive precedent that…God forbid these rules be broken again…demand a greater penalty.  Suspend a franchise from the league?

Next, he will start trying to fine the NFL’s broadcast partners when one of their announcers suggests opponents “go after” an injured…or simply a star…player.  Perhaps the first time a television analyst suggests a defense hit Peyton Manning high to take advantage of his neck injury, Goodell will look to take them off the air for a year.

How far is he going to go unchecked making tackle football into flag football?  Am I the only one who sees a full-on dictator invoking his unique agenda which runs counter to how his sport is actively packaged, sold and consumed?

Be careful what you wish for Roger.

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27 Responses to Goodell Crosses Line Deciding Saints Did – Be Careful What You Wish For Roger

  1. Well, at least he’s consistent.

    • Chris, you left that comment just to see if my BP would increase several points. Well played, sir…and mission accomplished! I have to say when I Tweeted similar thoughts in the direction of Tim Cowlishaw he agreed with the blatant abuse of power and wrote upon it as I was composing this. His thoughts are here: http://bit.ly/GEjnYU

  2. The Saints are the only team in the NFL with a bounty program…Doubtful. Their problem seems to stem from the fact that when the league inquired about this tactic over the past two years, the Saints seem to just blow off the league. I think that is were most of the Goodell’s anger is coming from. This would have all been swept under the table if the Saints has just taken care of this in house.

    You are so right about the collateral damage, this will have a far reaching affect on next season. I doubt Payton and Williams will ever coach again.

    • Chris, agreed reports indicate biggest problem Saints had was two-fold…it got way too far up the formal chain of command (i.e. left the locker room)…and then there was denial when coaches and management were queried and warned of “rules.” That being said, when the first reports surfaced it seemed every “old-time” football player had a story to offer about how common the practice has been for all sorts of “bets.” Can’t argue New Orleans showed no contrition because they, a) knew it was happening elsewhere and didn’t feel being singled out was warranted and, b) knew common sense would indicate if the subject came up again it would be handled with slap-on-the-wrist fines like all of these legal hits that suddenly are illegal. In a million years no one in the NFL was expecting this…and now everything is in play…everything is in question. In sports, you look for an opponent’s weakness and exploit it…whether it is tennis and you know the guy has a bad right foot…and you hit the ball that way every single time until he breaks down…or in football, where you know the guy has a bad knee…and you hit that knee as hard as possible every single time. Goodell is single-handedly trying to change professional football.

  3. Joe Munley says:

    I just don’t understand why Payton is losing $7.5 million in salary this season while the Saints franchise was only fined $500k. How can the commish expect TEAMS to take him seriously when he goes light on them.
    If he really wants to change the culture – as he obviously does – then he’s got to start hitting owners where they’ll feel it… In their wallet.
    Owners are businessmen —> Businessmen want to make money —> Hit businessmen with fines that will directly affect them —> Change of culture.
    It’s that simple.

    • Joe, I heard Goodell get asked that very question…how can you take this much salary away from one guy? He stammered something about the integrity of the game. To me, it is all about ego. He thinks he’s a Supreme Court Justice who was lied to. This Commish is the most dangerous of all currently serving because he’s actually trying to rework the sport from the inside out. I do see your point about trying to “fix” things from the outside in – i.e. taking money away from the organization that employed the managers rather than the managers themselves. If you feel you have to penalize somebody to prove how special you are, at least go for the biggest wallet that ALSO doesn’t impact competitive balance on the field. I wonder how many Owners woke up this morning wondering what they hell they were thinking when they vetted this guy to be their alleged mouthpiece. I don’t care what NFL Owners say in public on all this. I think they are smart enough to know why people watch football and why they make all the money they do off of this sport…and they are worried what this loon is going to come up with next. I don’t think you can change the culture of football without changing football. It may be an age thing for me. I’m almost 54 and have seen a lot of football in my day. Nothing has changed from the way it has always been played…except for Goodell as Commissioner and his overreaction to violence in a violent sport.

  4. Roger Goodell is playing two-face here. One side is the one that knows that the NFL makes billions of dollars solely off of big hits. The other actively tosses out fines and suspensions. Pick a side!!

    • So true, Sam. The NFL Network – the league’s own PR machine – runs NFL Films footage all the time from prior years where player after player talks about trying to “take out” the best player or players on the other team to give their team the best chance to win. Highlight packages of “greatest hits” are commonplace. Haven’t heard of any of the league’s TV partners being warned yet against ceasing glorifying violence in the sport. All of this goes all against the grain of how Goodell thinks the game should be played in the future. Players, if only in self-defense, always try to blow up the opposition in football. That’s kinda the point when you put all that equipment on. Everyone who steps on the field knows their first play might be their last play. We will now get to wonder every time a player gets hurt if there will be a Goodell investigation after the fact as to if it was premeditated in the locker room beforehand. Why not? That’s the next logical step…not just penalize his idea of excessive hits but now openly question if they were premeditated. That’s the NFL being served up in the new world order of Roger Goodell.

  5. tophatal says:

    sports’ $500,000 is a small price to pay financially given the fact that the Saints receive millions of dollars in revenues annually . What might be even more reprehensible is the fact that Payton lied repeatedly to Tom Benson , Goodell and the investigators from the league hierarchy investigating the allegations . Not only that but the coach got members of this staff at the time to suborn his actions and then lie about it . Now you have idiots such as Jabari Greer stating that the Saints still remain an organization of integrity and whose players have character and high moral principles . Is he serious ?

    This article ? .

    New Orleans Saints Cornerback Jabari Greer: “We Are Men of Honor, of Integrity”

    Jabari Greer doesn’t like the way he and his New Orleans Saints teammates are being portrayed. The stiff penalties handed down by the league against the team on Wednesday almost certainly won’t help him change any minds, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try.

    Greer never denies or defends that the Saints had some sort of incentive system, but takes exception to the way that the players are being portrayed as “mercenaries for hire.” He says that the intent all along was to play an intense brand of football, but not to take away the livelihood of their fellow players. He calls his team men of honor and integrity, a pair of words that haven’t been used while this whole saga has taken place.

    Jabari Greer joined WWL in New Orleans to discuss his reaction to the penalties imposed by the league, if he was involved in a bounty program, if he thinks the league handed out the penalties because the Saints weren’t forthcoming with information, how the team competes with Sean Payton suspended, the media’s play of the whole story, and his teammates’ integrity.

    What was your initial reaction to the news of the penalties?:

    “Obviously you can guess that when I first heard it I was upset as all the other guys were. I had feelings of anger, of disbelief, feelings of being unheard and unrepresented. It was tough; it was definitely tough. As the time has kind of passed on, I’ve been able to try to get some peace about the situation.”
    Were you involved in the bounty program?:

    ==============================================
    Click on link to read in full.
    =================================================

    How are your college brackets by the way ? Mine are now in the crapper courtesy of Duke ! Thanks for nothing Coach K ! If at all interested let me know what you think ? Click unto the link shown to view .

    What Brackets It’s Still A Damn Racket ….. Perhaps The Magic Also Should Be Watching The Tournament ?

    • Tophatal, we do disagree on the overall topic of violence in football but I do agree lying when asked directly about the situation ultimately did NO in. I still submit they felt compelled to do so because they know it is commonplace and felt resentment they were being singled out. Why haven’t other teams been punished once players publicly indicated this is commonplace? No more investigations elsewhere? This is more about the ego of Goodell being lied to than the actual events. And the punishment IMHO in no way, shape or form fits the “crime.” I heard Greer live on ESPN when first contacted and he could barely talk, he was so mad. He’s gonna take that anger out on the field next season. As a football fan, I hope he gets the chance to demonstrate it. As for my bracket…can we talk about something else… :)

  6. chappy81 says:

    Interesting punishment. I guess if they lied it makes more sense that it’s such a harsh penalty. The only thing I’m having a hard time with is wasn’t spygate going on for longer than this bounty program? Shouldn’t the Patriots have lost more if this is the punishment that the Saints got!?!

    • chappy81 says:

      That being said, if the Raiders had done this, they’d probably be contracted…

    • In the words of the good doctor “House” on FOX TV…”Everybody lies.” Chappy, this is more about Goodell’s ego than anything else. Sure they lied to him. And I have seen a lot of folks openly wonder about New England’s “Spygate” circumstances…they lied also…and certainly should have lost more because they flat out cheated. That wasn’t about overly aggressive play or an intent to take someone out of a game (which by the way I will always maintain is THE premise of football)…that was about cheating. Plain and simple. But Roger has decided his pulpit is to cleanse football of all aggressive play. It must be the lawsuits on concussions. Maybe the league has documents all over the place indicating they knew they were a problem fifty years ago and he in his own misguided way thinks the appearance of getting tough on violent plays now will somehow save them money down the line. All he is doing is creating more scenarios to be questioned in every game, on every play. Will we ever watch football the same from here on, wondering if this or that play was premediated or will get punished come Tuesday morning? I think not.

      • chappy81 says:

        Valid point, it’s going to be tough to figure out where to draw the line because like many players have said, this happens in nearly every locker room. I hope this doesn’t make guys question giving out a big hit. The thing that bugs me most about Gooddell is that he only makes rules to protect the offense. When is he going to make any rules to make it safer for the defense or even helps the defense!?!

  7. Blog Surface says:

    You have a great point Bruce, but I for one agree to the penalties simply because it is a domino effect. I am alright with players trying to hit hard and making an impact on the game, but I oppose someone who is literally trying to kill a man for money that these players waste in 30 minutes. The game needs to be fixed in this manner and it needs to stop so that it doesn’t trickle down to younger kids who play the sport.

    • I know we disagree on this one Christian. As for your comment about the younger kids…I am toying with the idea of a follow-up post on just that subject. Not necessarily how this situation trickles down to them…as much as how parents should view football as a completely different animal from all other sports. Saw something in the news recently where they listed how parents could protect their kids from injury in all sorts of athletic endeavors…football was listed among many activities as if it is the same. It is not. And in that respect, I very much respect your comment about concern for the youth of America who play the game. As for fixing this specific situation, I hope you don’t think this won’t continue because it will. It will just go deeper underground and be handled more quietly. Nothing will change except a greater effort not to get caught. I feel boys will always be boys…even in a man’s game.

      • Blog Surface says:

        As much as I don’t want to believe it Bruce, you’re right. This bounty saga has been going on for ages, and while this might have brought a hiccup to the process, it will indeed continue. Sad, but true.

  8. Of course Goodell is attempting to create a “cleaner” perception of the league and league activities, but I do wonder if the severity of the Payton’s and Williams’ punishment was not simply a message about not lying to the office of the Commish, but also a warning to the rest of the league: Do what you want in your own house, but make sure that you keep things under wraps. And if we (the league) tell you shut things down for a while because of perception, then do it.

    • SG, I’d love for your thoughts to be true about “wink, wink” on all this. Because it isn’t going to stop the behavior, just drive it deeper underground. That being said, I do now feel more and more that Goodell’s hit-by-hit decisions on Tuesday mornings and this Saints fiasco are all about trying to project an image the NFL cares about the health and welfare of its players…while trying to juggle 300+ lawsuits all over the country about their prior knowledge how dangerous the game really was to all of its prior participants. That ship has sailed, however. You have to “take your losses” if courts are really going to decide football players didn’t know football was a costly profession to one’s health. Good luck with that, I say. The existence of those lawsuits does NOT mean “suits” start to change the fabric of football. You are eventually going to make hitting and tackling players illegal. No one will care. No one will watch. Goodell is betting people will watch rough-touch. I’m betting they won’t. I won’t.

      • Why do I feel that all of this is should be made into a Monty Python movie: How do I play the game….you hit the person as hard as you can. Ok done….well you can’t do that! Why not, you said to hit them as hard as I can. Well you have to hit them here, or there, or like this and you certainty can’t kill them (well you get the picture). :-)

      • You do realize that Monty Python scenario will now have to be made into a blog post by one of us, don’t you? (A defender has Peyton Manning’s head in his hands…”What bloody well am I to do with THIS…I don’t like SPAM!?”)

  9. Steven Jeffries says:

    I have to side with the “Cimmish” on this one. Anytime someone is caught at this timeless tradition of “pay-for-pain,” they need to made an example of. Goodell is consistent with this trend…

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