Bountygate showcases player hypocrisy

Bountygate showcases player hypocrisy
Kansas City Chiefs players pray for Cameron Sheffield who suffered an injury during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Anyone who has regularly watched the NFL—even the casual fan—has likely seen players getting injured. And if you’ve seen that, you’ve also likely seen that injured player’s teammates and opponents alike, down on bended knee, praying he’s okay.

If you follow the League a bit more closely, you likely know that the NFL wants to extend the regular season by two games (from 16 to 18). One of the League’s proposals was to scratch two preseason games (currently four are played) in favor of two regular season games, thus limiting the additional effect on the player’s bodies.

The players, however, are strongly against this proposal and have turned the League’s own safety initiative around in its face, claiming the additional games have everything to do with revenue and nothing to do with player safety.

(Sometimes I think they forget the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business. Of course it has something to do with revenue.)

But, that’s still a fair point for players to make . . . until you say something like this, that is . . .

“Absolutely. I want to get a chance to put my helmet on whatever's hurt. Romo's ribs—I'm going to be asking for some corner blitzes. If I know Felix Jones' shoulder is hurt, I'm not going to cut him. I'm definitely going to try to hit him up high.”

Or something like this . . .

“He’s had a lot of concussions. We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’”

The first quote was Redskins’ cornerback DeAngelo Hall, referencing Tony Romo’s rib injury and punctured lung (yes, punctured lung). Hall was describing what he would do to Romo if Tony decided to play against him that Monday night.

Does what he said bother me? Not particularly. According to players across the league, that’s just the nature of the game.

The second quote was Giants’ wide receiver Devin Thomas—now a Chicago Bears' WR, by the way—referencing 49ers WR/PR Kyle Williams. Williams has a history of concussions and was openly being targeted for another.

Does that one bother me? Again, not particularly. It’s not my League, and I didn’t choose to play in it. And according to players who did choose that fate, thus is the nature of battle. But therein lays the inconsistency, folks . . .

Last season, 75 former players sued the NFL, claiming the League has “covered up” the harmful effects of concussions for decades. As if the NFL is the medical authority on concussions and holds the only key to the information, right?

And actually, if you listen to Devin Thomas, you’d think the League has hid the information, seeing as his team is intentionally talking about targeting a well-concussed player for yet another brain contusion that may leave his quality of life non-existent beyond his playing days.

In the wake of the Bountygate scandal, a bounty program administered by Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, current and former players across the League have come forward to say no one should be shocked at what was going on in New Orleans behind closed doors, saying, if winning means crossing a line, you do it.

How pathetic.

We’re smarter than that, aren't we? Players today understand the harmful effects the game can have on their bodies and their long-term health. And yet they, themselves, make no qualms about purposely attempting to injure their fellow players.

Friends and neighbors, you just can’t have it both ways.

And yet, the players—the same ones who have come out and said that bounties happen all across the NFL—will continue to get down on bended knee and pray for the man they just willfully attempted to injure.

And, again, according to the players, this is “culture,” and the rest of us just don’t get it. Except the NFL is not “battle,” it’s a game. And when players retire and realize the poor quality of life they’ve sentenced themselves to, there’s always a change of heart.

Remember that time Tonya Harding paid her ex-husband to break Nacy Kerrigan’s leg, all in the name of competition? Well, Jeff Gillooly, the putz that he was, failed and only ended up bruising Kerrigan’s leg. Just a bruise. Both Gillooly and his get away driver served prison time for that. Harding escaped with probation.

How is Greg Williams offering to pay his players to injure an opponent any different? Sure, it is different, I’ll admit that. Kerrigan, for one thing, did not sign up for full-contact figure skating, but the connection between the two can still be made fairly.

Under Greg Williams, players were specifically told to target the head, ankles, and ACL.

Here are some snippets from the now infamous Williams audio released this week . . .

“Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head. He (speaking of Michale Crabtree) becomes human when we fuckin’ take out the outside ACL. We need to decide how many times we can beat Frank Gore’s head. We need to decide how many times we can bulrush and … put Vernon Davis’ ankles over the pile. Never apologize for the way we compete.”

So players, fine, don’t apologize. But don’t bitch either. Don’t cry about what the League isn’t doing to protect you, and stop being a loud-mouthed group of hypocritical, self-proclaimed soldiers.

You’re grown men playing a game. No more, no less.



Filed under: NFL, Players

Tags: Bountygate

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  • Do the ends justify the means? or do the means justify the ends?
    I first contemlated those positions when I read "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli.

    I then realized my parents had been teaching me the same ethical lesson since I started playing baseball at 6 years old...it sounced like..."Its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game"...remember that?

    In a philosophical sense, "politics" loosely translates to the ethics of groups...so what we are really talking about is NFL player and coach politics or norms of behavior. Like every day politics, virtue and ethics are often compromised by the influence of large sums of money...in little league, there is no money...in the NFL there is millions at stake and people's livlihoods.

    When we talk about "greed", we need to think and understand because we all want more than we need to subsist (which is the definition of greed) and that is ok by me...it comes down to how you play the game or live imho. The NFL should be played with in the confines of the rules and we should look to safeguard players the best that we can understanding that the violence, competition, money and yes, pain are all part of the attraction. Play hard, play physical and enjoy your career because it won't last forever. And there is substantial risk to the sport so choose wisely....it IS a choice afer all.

    I live my life and teach my children that the means justify the ends...stated differently, if you work hard, work honest and don't apply force offensively then you are morally pursuing your dreams...I think if Roger Goodell can somehow wrap up a similar message, the league will be positively influenced by that message...if he contradicts himself, I fear the NFFL will be the result...that is National Flag Football League...then I have to watch baseball :(

  • In reply to Mouser:

    My point in writing that wasn't really to question how the players play, or try to define what League culture should be. Just simply to call out the players for what is blindingly obvious hypocrisy. But there seems to be this idea out there that if we do change the culture (which is happening now, BTW), the game won't be the same. That’s ridiculous. The game can be violent without being unethical. Simply put: play hard and within the rules, and don't purposely attempt to injure . . .

  • We are in violent agreement!

    Culture tends to follow the dominant leader and Goodell is putting his stamp on the game. Play hard, play physical, play to win within the rules...play ethical. It is how you play the game and if you play the game in a superior fashion, you will win.

    I think these discussions are important, because there is a fine line between growing the NFL as we move forward and turning it into the NFFL.

  • Brilliant article.

  • In reply to Alpha79:

    Thank you, my friend.

  • In reply to Alpha79:

    I second that

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