Football is a game of physical intimidation, and the violence of football is why it’s America’s #1 sport. Whether it’s $10K bounty to knock out Brett Farve, $500 for a forced fumble, or just another decal to slap on your helmet, a “bounty” system for big hits at all levels of this sport has always existed in some form or another.
For a real laugh, somebody should interview Deacon Jones to get his thoughts on all the latest fuss surrounding the NFL “Bounty” System, better known as “Bounty-Gate”. That man had quarterbacks for lunch! However, with all the recent studies on concussions and related lawsuits, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s attention has now been aimed squarely on player safety. Believe it or not, this can be a good thing or a bad thing……..depending on how Goodell reacts. He tends to speak out of BOTH sides of his mouth, and he has to be very careful here.
Former Bills head coach and defensive coordinator for the Titans, Saints, Redskins, Jaguars, and now Rams, Gregg Williams has been anointed Goodell’s first scapegoat. He stands out because he’s never been shy about bragging on his hard-hitting defenses. But, is he really that different than any other football coach? As long as “cheap shots” were not promoted or rewarded, he has done NOTHING wrong! In fact, even Brett Farve is fine with the NFL’s “bounty” system…..and that says a lot since many of these so-called bounties were on HIM! No other QB in NFL history took more blows. Yet, Farve and numerous others understand that it’s part of the game.
Over the years, the rules have changed dramatically. No more spearing, no more helmet-to-helmet shots, no more head-slapping by pass rushers (Deacon Jones’ signature move), no more crack-back blocks, and no more “avoidable” hits, or as I like to call it “the James Harrison rule”. But we will NEVER stop celebrating the big hits. They’re what we love! The single biggest issue though is how do you hit (cleanly) to intimidate, but avoid knocking someone out of the game (i.e., rendering a concussion)….or worse yet maiming them? No football fan older than 45 will ever forget the infamous collision between Raider’s safety Jack Tatum and Patriot’s wide receiver Darryl Stingley that occurred during a 1978 pre-season game in the Oakland Coliseum. That hit severed Stingley’s 4th and 5th vertebrae leaving him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Tatum was not penalized on the play, and the NFL never took any disciplinary action. Do you think for one minute that Tatum INTENTIONALLY hit the wide receiver to cripple him? Of course not! Tatum was known as “The Assassin”, and we have glorified him and many of the NFL’s most-feared hitters like Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert, Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, Ray Lewis, and John Lynch. Any one of these guys could routinely knock someone out of the game on clean hits!
You can NOT take the violence out of football. We can’t presume that football will be played any other way. Since players are getting bigger, stronger, and faster hitting will become more vicious. Likewise, the probability for concussions and other serious injuries will increase. Goodell would be smart if he re-directed his attention away from this “bounty” system and on improving the safety features of helmets and shoulder pads instead of going on a witch hunt and assessing fines all over the place. Follow NASCAR’s lead after Dale Earnhardt was killed……they didn’t ask the drivers to slow down, they made the car safer!
- Saints owner, coach meet with NFL’s Goodell (newsok.com)
- Union asks NFL to hold off on disciplining Saints (espn.go.com)
Tagged with: "bounty" system
Filed under: Pro Football
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