(Photo courtesy of Indy Posted)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has a job to do: Clean up the league.
I haven’t always agreed with some of Goodell’s efforts. His ruling last year about not leading with your head in a tackle? I thought was a bit much. Not that I disagreed about players getting hurt, but I thought it was a difficult rule to officiate. If a defensive player was tackling in a crowd and didn’t watch his positioning, he could be jarred into the tackle with his head leading. Penalty? The flip side of the coin would be players like Mr. Harrison on the Steelers who seems to have his head permanently extended on any tackle he makes.
In contrast, I feel Goodell’s actions regarding Bounty-gate over the last week were the only rational response to an intolerable situation.
I love football as much as the next rabid fan. I love watching tough players, great strategy and hard hits. It’s a physical game and I love that it has to be played all out, no guts… no glory. And players get hurt. It’s an inherently dangerous game. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal, the drama… who’s hurt and how bad? Can they play? Will they be put on IR? I can admire a hard hit yet hate seeing a player carted off the field. Durability is a desirable trait in a football player. Between training camp, preseason and regular season, conditioning and durability are what you hope for in every player on your team.
So finding out that a defensive coach was putting bounties on opposing players is disgusting to me. If the head coach knew about it and blew it off, that’s even worse. If there were players that went along with it, that’s just sickening.
To spend your adolescence working toward being an NFL caliber player, to accept the risk of stepping on the field knowing that you may be hurt, that your career will likely be short, that you may have lifelong after effects from playing the game… those are hard realities. Add in the unknown risk that someone from the other team has accepted a bounty to take you out of the game. Absolutely unacceptable.
I think any coach or player who was involved in that activity should be banned from the game. Forever. There’s just no room for that kind of behavior in professional sports.
I hope that Bounty-gate is over with. I’ve read a lot of comments that every team does it, that it’s an accepted process. I hope that’s wrong. I like a good rivalry. I like the smack talking as ego meets ego between opposing players. That’s what makes it a great sport.
A great sport has room for competition, but not for bounties.