In an earlier blog I discussed the punishments handed down by Commish Goodell to the coaches and the Saint organization for the participation and condonement of what is The Bounty Scandal. I fully support and agree with said punishments for many reasons but the main reason being this: I find it dispicible and unethical to place a sum of money on injuring another human being...especially when these men are supposed to be professionals at the game of football. You should not have to injure someone to reach the goal you seek--winning a Super Bowl. No, instead to win the Super Bowl you should want to face the toughest opponents each week (especially in the playoffs) so that when you win the Super Bowl you can say you beat the best to get it. To me, if you have to intentionally injure someone to reach said goal then you are a woosy, a cheat, and chicken. Again, this is all my opinion.
That said, it seems that possibly the final gavel has been dropped as far as punishments are concerned with The Bounty Scandal.
On top of losing HC Payton for the year, Asst HC Vitt for 6 games, GM Mickey Loomis for 8 games, $500K fine, and the loss of 2nd round draft picks for this year and next (unless that is reduced due to "good behavior" as Iike to call it), the Saint will now endure the loss of some players.
The following suspensions have been issued:
Jonathan Vilma (Linebacker and backbone to the Saints D) is suspended for the entire season effective immediately.
Anthony Hargrove (Defensive Lineman) suspended for 8 games
Will Smith (Defensive End) suspended for 4 games
Scott Fujita (Linebacker) suspended for 3 games
Now, Hargrove is now a Green Bay Packer and Fujita is now a Cleveland Brown, so the Saints are really only affected by the suspensions of Vilma and Smith.
Knowing this, some might think "Well that's not too bad for the Saints. They only lost 2 defensive players from all this." But my thought is OUCH, dang that has to hurt for the Saints--Vilma is a huge part of the Saints D. He is a leader on the D side of the ball. So, while it might not hurt to lose Smith just for 3 games, it will most definitely hurt to lose Vilma. Some sources are already eluding that this suspension might cause Vilma to go ahead and retire after the punishment has ended...only time will tell to that.
Vilma has talent. He knows football. But any respect I might have had for him as a football player ended immediately when it became know that he offered up $10K of his own money for injuries to QBs Kurt Warner and Brett Farve. In Warner's case he could have suffered permanted head injury. I wonder how Vilma would have felt about that...a father and husband forever impaired due to a specific bounty he (Vilma) had instigated? But then I guess if he was involved in this whole bounty scheme, he probably wouldn't have cared...
To top this off, players around the league are having a fit over these suspensions, indicating they find them unfair. Some say Vilma was "just playing football" so it is unfair he is suspended for the entire season, others (our beloved Robert Mathis being one of them) are saying the players had no choice b/c the coaches told them too, and while others just down right don't like it.
To them I say this: you stop "just playing football" when you hit with the intent to injure. Yes, football is a contact sport, but you cross a line when you decide to intentionally hurt someone. I don't care if it is something that has been done for years, it is still wrong. And you always have a choice. Even if the coaches told you to do it, you are still a man and you still make your own decisions. If you decide to go along with it, then it is no longer just the coaches fault, it is now yours as well. No one can make you do anything except yourself.
To end, I would like to say that I completely agree with all decisions Goodell has made regarding The Bounty Scandal. They were unpopular but he has stuck to his guns. His message came across loud and clear, and I hope all players where listening--player safety is important. Anyone trying to hide behind coaches or peer pressure or anything of the sort will not find exclusion. If you participate in knowingly trying to injure a player you will be punished.
For once I completely agree Commish. Good job.