The NFL announced last week that that an investigation by the league had found that the New Orleans Saints had created a bounty system for injuring players. Basically a defensive player received a monetary reward if they injured a player and that player had to leave the game. The system was operated by defensive coordinator Greg Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams.
The NFL is opening up another investigation to see if other teams offered a similar bounty system where Greg Williams coached. This weekend, Tony Dungy claimed that Peyton Manning's initial neck injury occurred while playing the Washington Redskins. Greg Williams was the defensive coordinator at the time. Peyton Manning allegedly said that the defensive player grabbed his neck and wouldn't let go. It was as if the guy wanted to pull his head off. Below I lay out my case against bounty programs in the NFL.
Coaches and parents teach their kids about sportsmanship and about respecting their sport and their opponents. I’ve watched a lot of high school hockey this year in my state of Minnesota. Besides the talent on the ice, one thing became clear; high school coaches instill a value of respect for their opponents.
In games where an opposing player was hurt by a hit, players from both teams huddled together in support for the injured player. There wasn’t any gloating or celebrating for hurting another player. The kids respect the game.
I’ve seen the same type of respect at the college level. As you can imagine, the physicality of the game gets more intense as you move up to another level. While there are times that players take a dirty hit (in hockey) or hit the quarterback late (in football), it seems as if the general practice is to respect the game, its rules, and the participants who play the sport.
This same attitude needs to be part of the NFL. If you create a system where players disrespect everything about the game and its rules, you will have complete and total chaos. There might not be any player left in the game.
If we teach our kids at an early age to play the game the right way and to respect their opponents, shouldn’t we demand the same thing from adults who participate in sporting events or professional sports leagues? Of course we should. That message shouldn’t automatically be lost just because the person plays in a professional sport.