by Jane Briggs-Bunting
The New Orleans Saints were more like sinners with the bounty program that rewarded players for hits that took out opposing players.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed out suspensions and fines Tuesday, including a year-long suspension without pay for head coach Sean Peyton, an indefinite suspension for former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with the Rams), a $500k fine for the team and the loss of two second-round draft picks.
CNBC sports columnist Darren Rovell credits Goodell’s “heavy hand” because of the 49 concussion lawsuits filed against the NFL by former players.
That is certainly one reason, but if Goodell really wants to teach a lesson, he should ask for a criminal investigation and players and coaches involved should be charged with crimes.
Playing to deliberately injure someone is what’s known in criminal law as battery and maybe even felonious assault. The fact players were being paid to take out opponents compounds the issue. In a manner of speaking, this was a true hit, and the players involved were hit men using their bodies rather than guns.
Had the players’ actions occurred on the street, police would be involved. And though I wouldn’t expect the trouble-plagued New Orleans police to do much given hometown loyalties, the victims who were injured in other cities should file complaints with their local police. That would really send a zero tolerance message.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il) wants the bar raised, as well, announcing Judiciary Committee hearings on bounties in pro football and other major sports. He said Congress could amend the federal law making sports bribery a crime as one way to proceed.
Any way you look at it, the Saints involved were sinners. Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct…