The boom got lowered on the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, and Gregg Williams today and after a lot of speculation on the potential punishment for “Bountygate” I doubt anyone saw this coming. The team’s GM Mickey Loomis will miss a half season, Payton, the team’s head coach will miss a full season, Greg Williams will be suspended indefinitely, Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt will miss six games, while the team will lose two second round picks, and was fined $500,000.
And while I understand the PR move that this was, from a logical standpoint I find it a little silly.
Maybe is the small economics and accounting background that I have that makes me skeptical of the impact of the size of bounty that has been discussed on a player’s motivations, but I have a hard time believing that guys who are making close to a half-million dollars per season at minimum are motivated by a couple hundred dollars.
The thing that has seemed to go unspoken is that when one player makes a big hit, his body takes a fair amount of punishment also. Obviously not every player is sitting in a team meeting with a calculator and a pencil analyzing the cost-benefit and opportunity cost of putting a hit on another player that leads to a “cart-off,” but I really doubt that any of these players are so dumb as to throw away millions of dollars of potential income for a down payment on a Toyota Camry.
It’s not like this is the first time big hits have been rewarded, either. While the NFL’s uniform Gestapo obviously wouldn’t allow it, big hits have been rewarded with helmet stickers in college and high school football for close a century. Sure, a helmet sticker doesn’t double as currency, but within the scope of comparative net worth, $1500 spread several ways for a big hit is the NFL equivalent to a helmet sticker.
This even goes without including the amount teams pay for the kinds of guys that make big hits just because they are big hitting guys. James Harrison doesn’t need 900 more excuses to hurt a quarterback, just air to breath and for his half-million dollar game checks to keep pouring in.
We’ve gotten ourselves all worked up about a team emphasizing an element of the game that already exists. Because Greg Williams gave it a name and payout structure doesn’t make it any worse. The money in the NFL has gotten to the point where a couple hundred bucks is the equivalent to any one of our bosses saying “You did a great job today, let me buy you a beer.” Sure it may not be 100 percent ethical, but this isn’t the NCAA. There isn’t a quota on how many chicken wings I’m allowed to consume on my boss’s dime, and there shouldn’t be such a huge backlash over celebrating one of the things that is slowly being stripped from football already, with or without bounties.
The equivalent of this happened in baseball. Pitchers aren’t allowed to throw inside anymore for fear of the mound being charged, being kicked out of the game, or being suspended. And because of that, and obviously the help of some other outside elements, every hallowed offensive record that we once knew has been smashed to nothingness.
Left alone, a game will police itself. Let’s not forget that the most rabid and vicious defense in the NFL has about two dozen teammates who play offense. The beauty of sport, in my opinion, is that on most nights justice is served. When it isn’t, wait until next time, because it will be served with a side of revenge.
Is it right to intentionally hurt opposing players? Of course not. But I have my doubts as to how much of that actually happened with “Bountygate.”
As a Seahawks fan though, this is nothing but good news. I think that Greg Williams is a fantastic defensive coordinator and that he won’t be able to help the Rams toward competitiveness helps the Seahawks cause. I suppose not having a target placed on Matt Flynn’s head is good too, if you believe in that kind of thing.