Last Friday, some disturbing news surfaced out of the NFL that the New Orleans Saints were involved in what the mainstream media has termed “Bountygate.” According to an ongoing investigation, Saints defense coordinator Gregg Williams and fellow players have been paying the team’s defensive players money for their performance on the field. However, the investigation revealed that players have received money – or “bounty” – for intentionally injuring opposing players. The words used to describe these vicious hits are “knockouts” and “cart-offs,” which means the opposing player had to be carted off the field on a stretcher.
As a sports fan, I am absolutely disgusted by this news. I have heard a number of former NFL players say that this kind of thing has gone on for years but has always been kept private among players and coaches. I just find it hard to accept the fact that these athletes feel getting paid is a reason to hurt other players. How can any football fan feel good about wearing the jersey of a player involved in this outrageous scheme? How could a season ticket holder feel compelled to put hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into an organization if they knew that the team was involved in these shenanigans? Granted, this news is so recent and hindsight is 20/20. But going forward, I have to believe that fans will change their tune about the NFL and how they view its players.
There has already been much debate about what kinds of penalties should be handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell. This may sound harsh, but I think any players who have directly been involved in severely injuring another player should be banned from playing the game. I also think Goodell should ban Gregg Williams from coaching, especially since he was warned about this in the past and kept allowing it to go on. I doubt the punishments will climb to this level of severity, but I believe they should.
Whether it’s “Bountygate,” steroids, or any other controversy in sports, I think it is an absolute shame how so much news about under-the-table dealings has broken in recent years. I hate to say it, but I think we are only a few more of these major bombshells away from the unraveling of American professional sports as we know them. It is quite disturbing as a sports aficionado. The most effective way to prevent this will have to be some major overhauls within each sport. I certainly hope it will not come to that someday.