For most players, injury is a constant fact of life, with pain and disability as unfortunate byproducts.
Over the past few months it has become known that for some, delivering debilitating blows had become a brutal and lucrative goal in itself.
Gregg Williams, defensive coach for the New Orleans Saints, admitted that he promised cash bonuses, or "bounties," to players who “knocked out” opponents.
Mr. Williams is said to have relied on these incentives during the Saints’ 2009 Super Bowl championship season.
It is interesting to note that during this season, the Saints were rarely fined by the league.
One exception was the NFC title game in 2009 against Minnesota where the Saints brutalized QB Brett Favre. The NFL fined four Saints players for hits in that game, three of them on Favre.
Regular readers of my blogs will know that I enjoyed watching Favre get hit.
While for many professional football players, the sums may have been modest, any financial inducement to cause injury to other players (even Brettie) crosses a line.
I have no disagreement with that.
The Wahington Post stated that Mr. Williams should be barred from coaching, and that other team officials wh o condoned or tolerated inducements to injure or maim should also face stiff penalties. The Post further declares that individual players who took part should also face consequences and that the NFL must send a resounding message that there is no place for such savagery.
The NFL suspended several members of the Saint's coaching staff, as well as several players.
While I do not disagree with the disciplinary action taken, I am conflicted on whether the "bounty" policy had any effect on the players' behavior.
Since the early 1980's, Sports Illustrated magazine has offered football videos as subscription inducements, with titles like "Crunch Course" and "Crunchtime" that celebrate devastating collisions and crushes designed to make an opponent think twice on the next matchup.
In the 1970's , Jack Tatum earned a reputation as a fierce competitor, and was considered one of the hardest hitters ever to play the game. Nicknamed "Assasin," he may have been most widely known for a hit he made on New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley in 1978 that paralyzed Stingley from the chest down.
Tatum never made any effort to apologize or to see him after the incident. "It could have happened to anybody," said Tatum. "People are always saying, 'He didn't apologize.' I don't think I did anything wrong that I need to apologize for. It was a clean hit."
From 2003 through 2006, the ESPN Monday Night Countdown Jacked Up! segment showed a collection of hits from the previous day's games, narrated by Tom Jackson, culminating with he and the rest of the jock-turned-commentators on the set screaming "Jacked Up!"
As intellectually stimulating as this ESPN programming sounds, it was essentially celebrating cheap shots and injuries, making it the closest thing basic cable had to a snuff film.
All this makes me question whether the Saints players hit any harder or played any more aggressively because of the promise of a bounty that amounts to pocket change for them.
Am I the only one who thinks injury is a forseeable consequence of three-hundred pound men running at each other at top speed in a steriod-induced rage?
America CELEBRATES this violence.
These games are the bread and circuses of our empire, and the violence is what keeps our dull minds preoccupied while our politicians rape the future for our children.
If you want to stop it, there is really only one action that will have any effect.
Change the channel.