<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Derek – I met him when I was professor for a day at CSUF. Really rad dude, and he wants to come on board to help explain to us nerdy folk the wild world of sports. Smart dude, and knows his shizzy shiznat. I only have one more thing left to say … HIT IT DEREK!!! </editorsnote>
Hello again @TNTML followers! If you love real, gritty sports drama and the NFL then boy do I have a post for you. I’d like to begin my thoughts by saying that every sport has it’s “hang-up” or stigma. For baseball it is steroids, big time. For the NBA it was the referees fixing the games or the commissioner playing God. It isn’t even always about the games, for example in the English Premier League (soccer) over in Europe the largest issue is racism. Sports are a massive part of society whether people are willing to accept that or not, and they can have serious real life implications in the every day lives of many people. So, let’s get into the NFL’s new stigma, and by that I mean the one after that dude shot himself in the leg at a titty bar…
The New Orleans Saints were arguably the most respected NFL franchise in the league right now. The leader of their team, Drew Brees, is a constant professional who does nothing but win and set records (and get paid a lot.) Brees also lead the Saints to their one and only Super Bowl Championship in 2009. Their coach Sean Payton echoes the maturity and quality of person that Brees has, and together they have truly been the most socially influential team in NFL history. After hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana during the 2005 season, the thoughts of the NO Saints were no longer on football, at all. The Superdome, which is the Saint’s stadium, was no longer a stadium. Now, it was a refugee center where thousands of innocent people ravaged by a hurricane ran to survive. One could only imagine all of the effects that thousands of people and a hurricane might have on a structure, and after all of this the stadium was repaired for the sum of $185 million. I don’t mean to be morbid or depressing, but this is all part of my point. I am telling you all this because I am about to do something I have never done before. I am about to bash the New Orleans Saints. This franchise has always been on the top of my list when it comes to respectability, and the like-ability factor for that matter; but over the weekend the Saints were caught in unbelievably incriminating situation.
Reports began to ring through the sports world as we approached the weekend that the Saint’s were caught engaging in what the media is calling a “bounty program/scandal.” Apparently, many or most players on the defensive side would tell their teammates that they would pay them a certain large sum of cash for huge hits, interceptions, etc…but the most alarming rewarded action was injuring a player. Players would be paid money directly for hurting an opposing offensive player and removing him from the rest of the game. Many people may argue that the “bounties” were not specifically for illegal hits to hurt people, but rather they wanted their players to tackle legally and if they happen to get hurt then so be it. To most logical people that wouldn’t be a problem, I mean hell that is just a part of the game. The issue is that the team is rewarding it’s players for injuring their peers, and because people are being paid (and the last time I checked people love money) many of them are naturally going to hit dirty or intentionally try and hurt a player.
This is NOT football. Football is supposed to be a pure competition between amazing athletes that get to display their abilities, not their ability to blow out a knee. That isn’t even the worst part about this, in my opinion. For me, the worst part is that these defensive players are intentionally trying to ruin other people’s careers and lives. Football is an insanely physical game and huge hits naturally happen, but when you add monetary incentives onto injuring players then you are going to dish out some serious long term damage to people. The list of paralyzed ex-players, and deaths at age 39 are endless and the reason for that is because of all these hard hits. Research on concussions, and how much they have been shortening athletes lives is greatly increasing and it hasn’t taken long at all to realize that they directly effect the long term health of these athletes. It’s nerve wracking, it really is. This sport is so dangerous, and so many defenseless players get crushed so often that something might just have to change. People are already losing years off of their lives just because they have played the game and are now retired, and who knows how much worse this is going to get. I will always support high paced, action packed football, but I would not be willing to risk the long term health of so many players.
To those who are wondering, yes Sean Payton and everyone else in the organization knew exactly what was going on. This could have been stopped, but instead this conflict has now begun. This doesn’t end at the Saints either, I am willing to bet this happens on every single team in the NFL. The NFL discovered this by delving into an investigation of the Saints, and now they are beginning an investigation on the Redskins also. This has only just begun…
Shoot your thoughts and opinions over on twitter and I will get back to you! Have a good week everyone.