When the news came out this week that the Saints had employed a “bounty” program on their defense under Gregg Williams two things came to mind. One, I was not surprised in the least and two, the NFL was going to make this a scapegoat issue.
It would not surprise me that many an NFL team or players on teams had some kind of “bounty” program in place. Football is a violent sport and football players all know if you can get rid of another team’s “star” players you will have an easier time getting a win against that team. It’s not a new concept. Maybe the pay part is. Back in the 60s, teams were well known for their “hurt the other team” mentalities. It was just what they did and the other teams expected it. In the age of the NFL “allegedly” becoming more concerned about player injury, willful injury of another player is frowned upon in the main offices and NFL headquarters. But it still goes on and now it appears it was going on all over the place.
Enter the scapegoat, Gregg Williams. Reports are now surfacing that the Redskins Williams led defense had a “bounty” program that “supposedly” ended when Williams left the team. Word comes out that the Bills had a “bounty” program when Williams was there as coach. The Saints had their “bounty” program under Williams. Of course, all these cases and teams claim that after Williams was gone so was the “bounty” program. I wouldn’t take that as gospel. But the NFL has their scapegoat.
With the constant coverage of the NFL and their supposed crusade to limit concussions and injuries by changing rules and making the game less “violent” to have a bounty program come to light just wouldn’t play out well in the court of public opinion. Coming on the heels of the lawsuit filed by the family of former NFL player Dave Duerson who committed suicide and the family claims it is NFL concussion playing related, the NFL cannot have a perception of players being willfully targeted. It just wouldn’t look good on paper or in court.
So, they are going to go with a scapegoat. They are going to say that this type of activity only occurred on teams with Gregg Williams involved. They are going to say that when Williams left these teams that this activity ceased to exist. They are also going to do everything they can to show that even though this activity was occurring no players were actually injured as a result. Good luck with that….just ask Peyton Manning.
Teams going after players is nothing new nor is it limited to Gregg Williams run teams. Nor has it ended. It’s like the dirty family secret kept in the closet. It remains to be seen just now it plays out but for now the NFL is doing everything they can to make it a Gregg Williams story instead of an injured players story. That’s the last thing the NFL wants at this point.