Though there are some who believe the punishment handed down by Commissioner Roger Goddell to be “excessive”, the facts tell a different story.
Players “trash-talking” to their opponents in such ways as “we’re going to knock you out of the game”, or “don’t run my way or I’ll bury you” are just some of the things said before and/or even during the course of a game. Those of you (like myself) who’ve played organize sports know very well what I’m talking about.
However, this case ways not just about simple “trash-talk”, this was a “systemic” problem which existed among coaches and other staff members of the New Orleans Saints. This was an organized and well financed “incentive” program implemented by a coach (Greg Williams) who has maintained this practice for several years, and on several teams where he’s coached.
Players like Warren Sapp, Lawrence Taylor, and even our very own Dick Butkus made no bones about stating (figuratively) how they “kill QBs”, but they were never encourage and/or paid to have them carted off the field. In fact, when LT applied the hit that ended Joe Theismann’s career, Taylor was the most adamant one on the field calling for help on behalf of injured QB.
No, this was something all together different, and could have resulted in something far worse than simply knocking a player out of the game. The NFL is well aware of the fact that a hard and devastating hit can result in permanent disability, and even death. Therefore with the type of safety culture that the league is trying to establish, Commissioner Goddell was left with no choice but to issue a very harsh and decisive punishment.
FACT – A memo was sent out two years prior warning teams that the league was aware of this practice, and that it needed to stop immediately.
FACT – The Saints Front Office, and Head Coach Sean Payton were given numerous opportunities to be forthcoming regarding what DC Williams was doing, but they chose to do otherwise.
FACT – Payton himself claimed to have “zero” knowledge about the incentive program, but the evidence told a different story.
Now that lawsuits coming from several players are eminent, Goddell again was left with no choice but to explicitly show that the league does-not, and will-not tolerate any such practice from any person or team organization. The alternative would have been to be named as a co-defendants in these suits as well.
Make no mistake folks, this practice was (in-fact) a disgrace to the sport. Just ask the NHL’s front man Gary Bettman regarding the declining popularity of His sport. Things have gotten so out-of-control in Hockey that you now have players pounding on each other right after the opening face-off.