By: Eric Thomas
I thought the Saints bounty scandal was no big deal at first. I found it was strange that it was being discussed at all. At first I thought that it was odd that the NFL was taking issue with people getting paid to tackle a guy, when the whole point is tackling the guy. I imagined that deep down every NFL player wants to put the good players out of the game. Sure makes it easier to win when the opposing team’s stud is hanging off a pair of crutches.
Then the facts came out. I need to learn from this. I need to use this as a teaching moment for me to realize that usually my initial reaction is uninformed and wrong. I should be more patient in rendering judgment because the people who saw the evidence were horrified, enough to destroy the Saints franchise for the next couple of years.
They didn’t just suspend Peyton, Williams and Vilma because they had some rumors or eyewitness testimony. They had slides. Someone made a slide that advocated someone be hurt. The same person who wrote the slide then set a price on it. The person who made this slide showed this to other people and saw nothing insane about that.
It’s unsettling how organized this was. I guess I had some idiot Pollyanna notion that this was a verbal thing. Maybe Williams took a guy aside and suggested he might give him money if he went Tonya Harding on Brett Favre. In my imagination it was more implied. A suggestion that you should really try to injure the ball carrier, and while you are at it, bring him down.
That isn’t what happened. What happened is a crime. You can’t put a hit out on someone. I don’t understand how this is merely being adjudicated by the NFL. You can’t handle this internally. You need to explain to me how an organization can get so out of hand that they think they can get away with these trespasses.
This wasn’t a strategy, this isn’t tough football. This isn’t Rodney Harrison or John Lynch being aggressive. This isn’t Warren Sapp leveling Todd Clifton on an INT return. Those things are hardnosed football. This is a mafioso style hit. Gregg Williams sent leg breakers after Brett Favre. He was showing Favre a lesson that he should never pass on the Saints.
Some suggested, including The Ticket’s own Ryan Wooley, that the players involved should all be suspended for life. I still think that is too harsh, but I think they should be thrown in jail. If Plaxico Burris can shoot himself in the leg at a nightclub, this should be a year in the poke. If some team wants to take a flyer on them after that, go right ahead. You need to have at least some level of forgiveness in this country and if you do the time your name is clear.
If there is enough evidence to say that a crime has been committed, this should go to the courts. In my completely uninformed opinion, physical evidence and a confession is plenty to convict. The Saints engaged in the same tactics as organized crime. They hired someone to exact violence on someone else in order to gain a competitive advantage. Why is the NFL allowed to just handle this internally? So if someone commits a crime while employed by a team in the NFL, that person is outside the jurisdiction of the US?
Until there is a grand jury drawn and all of the allocated evidence gathered under subpoena, this process is a mockery of justice. They had the intent to injure someone. That’s a crime. Yet you go after Roger Clemens for perjury, and using steroids to hurt no one other than himself. Yet Roger Goodell handles this internally.
The NFL has become the most powerful league in the country. They are above the law.