Jobu gives his thoughts on the “Bountygate” controversy in New Orleans.
This was, undoubtedly, the biggest story of the weekend, and I feel like it will continue to be a big story for a while, at least until the baseball regular season starts up again. It appears that former New Orleans Saints assistant coach Gregg Williams, who has also been the head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins, instituted a program of monitary rewards for knocking targeted opposing players out of games. Like almost everyone I have seen talk about this, I was pretty shocked and appalled by this revelation.
Gregg Williams has now joined the ranks of such evil coaches as John Kreese from Karate Kid and Jack Reilly from The Mighty Ducks. We all remember when Kreese, the Cobra Kai coach, demanded Johnny Lawrence (was there a better 1980s high school bully than William Zabka, btw?) sweep Daniel-San’s leg despite the fact that it was clearly injured. We also remember when coach Jack Reilly forced one of his Hawks to injure Adam Banks (his former player) because Banks was giving the Ducks a chance to beat his team.
That’s Gregg Williams now! He’s the one asking “You have a problem with that?” as Lawrence looks on in disbelief at what his coach is asking him to do. He’s the one telling Larson and McGill to “drop Banks like a bad habit.” so that the Hawks can beat the Ducks in the championship game (Hawks were already up 2-0 at that point, btw). The only difference is that those were movies (awesome movies, at least) and what Gregg Williams did is real life. As they say, life imitates art. In this case asshole NFL coaches imitate asshole movie coaches.
I mean honestly, what’s wrong with people? I know football is supposed to be a tough-guy sport, but paying your players to injure others is pretty despicable. The fact that he’s basically done this everywhere he’s been a coach is probably even worse. It’s not like he suddenly got the idea in 2009. How many injuries has Williams indirectly caused by rewarding defensive players for causing them? How many $1,500 checks has Williams doled out for a “knockout?” How many $1,000 checks have been cashed by Saints, Redskins and Bills players through the years for getting a guy carted off the field? It should be noted that even more money was given out during playoff games.
In fact, certain players were even worth more money. Big time quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Kurt Warner had slightly heftier price tags on their heads, according to sources. This puts some seemingly innocent things in a whole different perspective, doesn’t it? The injury that basically ended Kurt Warner’s career, for example, came at the hands of the Saints. Shortly after throwing an interception, Warner was hit by a blindside block while running without the ball, and not even that close to the play. How much did Bobby McCray get paid for that one? Career ending injuries must have come with a bonus, right Gregg? Especially when you end the career of one of your specially targeted opposing players.
Ok before I get carried away blaming Gregg Williams, there are a lot more people to blame here. During his time as the head coach for Washington and Buffalo, you could pretty much say Williams was 100% to blame for these rewards programs. He ran the whole show, after all. No defensive coordinator could have run such a program without his knowledge or consent, so he was definitely responsible there. This brings me to Sean Payton. Payton has said that he was aware of the bounty allegations, but admitted he did not do enough to confirm them, nor did he do anything to stop the system from being carried out. Basically, he knew it was going on and he didn’t do anything at all to stop it. In my opinion, that makes him just as much to blame.
At the very least, Payton, and possibly Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, should be suspended for a long time. Ideally, I’d like to see them both fired. Both of them allegedly knew this was going on and did nothing to stop it. That might even be worse than being the one who implements the program. When you’re someone in authority, you’re responsible for what your subordinates do. It would be one thing if Payton didn’t know about the bounty system, but he did. He shouldn’t be coaching in the NFL in 2012, and possibly beyond that.
Williams, meanwhile just signed on to be the defensive coordinator for the St. louis Rams. He should probably consider resigning from that, if the Rams aren’t already thinking about firing him. I’m sure Commissioner Roger Goodell will suspend him for quite some time anyway, so the Rams will be needing a new defensive coordinator shortly anyway. A significant suspension should be levied upon Williams, and I wouldn’t even question a lifetime ban. What he has been doing for at least the last ten years (that we know of) is truly awful.
Finally, let’s not forget these players. In The Karate Kid, Johnny Lawrence didn’t have to sweep the leg like Kreese told him. He could have said “No, coach.” He could have continued the fight following the rules of decency. When it comes to McGill and Larsen in The Mighty Ducks, they also could have refused to hit or injure Adam Banks (also, has everyone seen the hit? I feel like Banks could stand to toughen up a bit there. click the video above). The problem with these two fictional movie characters is that they were children. When you’re a kid and your coach tells you to do something, you’re probably more than likely going to do it, especially if your coach is as intimidating as Kreese and Reilly were.
The players who carried out Williams’ proverbial leg sweep orders were grown men. A grown man knows better than to purposefully injure another player. A grown man knows that the guy they’re being asked to injure has a family to take care of. A grown man probably doesn’t need $1,500 that badly (considering they play in the NFL). The players who participated in these bounty programs and reaped their rewards are just a despicable as Williams. They took money to injure their colleagues. Unfortunatley, there’s no way to really properly discipline these players, unless someone somewhere has a list of every player to ever collect a reward from Williams for hurting another player. Even then, it would be hard to prove. If someone can somehow prove a player was involved in this, they should expect big-time suspensions too, but that’s probably unlikely.
I’m curious to see how Commissioner Goodell will handle this in the coming days. I get the feeling Goodell likes to flex his muscle every once in a while, so I would be shocked to see Williams coaching by the time the 2012/2013 season starts. Just how badly Goodell wants to put an end to these types of bounty programs (don’t think for a second that Williams is the first to ever implement one, or even the only one currently doing it), will probably help decide Payton’s fate.
Frankly, I don’t think the league needs either one of them.
Feature image courtesy of: http://buffalowdown.com/
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