When the New Orleans Saints were found to put “bounties” on big name players, the world of sports went into huge disarray, attacking the Saints organization for being “barbaric” and “unethical.” Absolutely, bounties are wrong; trying to deliberately hurt someone is always wrong. But, why does this whole bounty issue come as a shock to anyone? The New Orleans saints are not being treated fairly or right by the media or the public, who are making way too much out of “bounties.”
We live in a sensationalist society. We love the between-the-legs dunks, the behind-the-back passes, and the Sports Center Top 10-worthy big hits in football. We as a society can’t have it both ways. We can’t complain about these bounties and then view Ray Lewis’s big hit on Dustin Keller on YouTube over 2 million times. At the end of the day, as morally wrong as these bounties may sound, people love to watch these big hits and do watch these big hits.
We also always knew that the NFL was a league of “barbaric” individuals playing a violent game. Men who are 300+ pounds are getting paid millions of dollars to physically tackle another player regardless of whether there is a bounty on the line to take out the other player or not. With or without bounties, players are at a very high risk of being injured: that is just the nature of football. And if you think for a second that the players who aren’t in some sort of bounty program are not trying to hurt the players on the other team, you’re out of your mind. They are paid a yearly salary to physically take down players on the other team: it is what they do.
As the week has gone on, more and more former and current players have come out and said that their team has used some sort of bounty system. I find it comical that most of them speak largely against the system. Though the New York Giants did not use a bounty system (as far as we know), take Eli Manning as an example. He spoke out saying that bounties “cannot be a part of the NFL” yet players on his own team said that they specifically went after Kyle Williams, who fumbled two punts in the Giants NFC Championship game win, because he had a history of concussions. A couple thousand dollars to take out another player is nothing compared to the millions of dollars players receive coupled with the fame of winning (and winning a Super Bowl in the Giants’ case). Bounty or not, NFL players are going after each other because they are highly competitive and they want to win even if it means it is at the expense of a player on the other team.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has no choice but to severely punish the New Orleans Saints for breaking NFL rules. As Hall of Famer Mike Ditka put it, Goodell needs to “send a message” that “this behavior is unacceptable.” In order to keep the NFL’s image intact, Goodell has to and will punish the Saints. The bounty system is completely wrong. No one should ever intentionally try to hurt another person-even in football. But, is our criticism towards the Saints fair when we love to watch these hits and when, bounty or not, NFL players are trying to target and take out other players?
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