This post isn't really about the Cowboys. But then again, it is. I have been a devoted fan since their inception when I was twelve years old. I'm not as interested in the draft as Archie although I think he does an outstanding job. I was fascinated with Rabble's article that brought out how much luck is involved in draft selection. I have thought that for some time now. Nor do I pore over statistics like O.C.C. I am an engineer, so I follow his math, but I tend to favor the intangible as much as the measurable. I'm more like Tom, drinking a lot of Kool-aid. But I haven't seen a lot here about New Orleans and the bounty thing, so I feel the need to opine.
First of all, as I said earlier, I am devoted to the Cowboys. But the Saints have been my second team for quite a while now. I have to say that I have never completely trusted Sean Payton, even when he was with the Cowboys. He has shifty eyes and never really looks the camera in the eye. Obviously, I don't know the guy and it is completely unfair to judge him based on television. But he always seemed to me to be more interested in what the team can do for me, rather than what can I do for the team. But I will attempt to put all that aside, as this issue is much more complex than his personality. I think a few points need to be examined.
It is specifically proscribed in the rules. It doesn't matter if every one is doing it or not. Isn't one of the first lessons in morality you teach your children that it doesn't matter what other people are doing? And none of that "I was just following orders" BS. The rules are the rules. Widespread bending of the rules leads to anarchy.
The Nature of the Game
This is the one that irks me the most. I have read countless comments (not on this site) that football is a violent game, and people are going to be hurt. While this is true, to say that bounties are okay is the same as telling my crew they should injure competitors or sabotage the work they have done and I'll pay them more. The damage that would do to our society is unthinkable.
This is what really got the Saints in trouble. Not only did they not admit to the practice when challenged, they continued the behavior. Kind of like giving Goodell the finger. Not smart. If they would have just said "oops" and discontinued the policy, the punishment, if any, would have probably been light.
I think the punishment assessed is overly harsh, but not unfair. And it remains to be seen what is going to happen to the players involved. Personally, I don't blame the players all that much. They are young folks trying to maintain their place in a team structure that is very susceptible to coaches' perceptions. Of course they are going to try to make their coaches happy. I really don't think they should be punished as severely as the management. Ultimately, it was the management's actions, particularly the covering up and denials, that brought this to where we are today. The arrogant and willful refusal to play within the rules are things that could ultimately lead to the fall of the NFL.