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We Have A Hypocrite In Our Midst

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Posted 03-21-2012 at 05:38 PM by saintfan
Updated 03-21-2012 at 05:49 PM by saintfan

What has happened to the sport I love? Lets just forget the team for a moment, because without the NFL my team doesn't exist. So of course I'm a Saints homer, but that has nothing to do with how I'm feeling right now. I'm upset for my team, but it goes much deeper.

I can't help but feel as though the Nation Football League is punishing a single team, in this case the Saints, for its own transgressions that date back to its creation. Fans of opposing teams and over-the-top-league-mouthpiece sports writers will take the path of least resistance and claim I'm trying to displace blame. That's a fail.

In fact the Saints should be punished harshly if for nothing else than being stupid enough to document their pay for play program. I am totally and 100% completely on board with that, but I am angry for what, to me, are the clear motivations for doing so. In my opinion they have little to do with protecting players for the player's sake or for honoring and overseeing the integrity of the game as the league suggests. I call bull****.

The league has for decades turned a blind eye to all sorts of wrong-doings by teams in an effort to keep players on the field in spite of injury. The league has encouraged this behavior by glamorizing the violence from which it profits handsomely. The NFL promotes this 'toughness' at every turn and has been doing so for the 30+ years I can remember watching. It glorifies the brutal play of the Steelers and Cowboys and Raiders of the 70's. It has enshrined many of those players in its Hall of Fame. It creates and broadcasts film after film of these "heroic" players playing through pain.

And now, quite recently, it has changed its stance. Why? Players are clearly unhappy about their new requirement to tone it down. It is counter to how they were told to play the game since they were kids. Fines are through the roof for any number of questionable plays. QBs are protected to the point now that a 300+ pound grown man going at full speed must stop his attack, mid-air in many cases, to avoid hitting a moving target.

Make no mistake. The league has zero interest in protecting players from the violent nature of the game. Quite the opposite has been true from the beginning. The evidence is disseminated by the league with the intent to appeal to its core audience. The league also has an interest in protecting itself from law suits, and this is why we are where we are.

As most of us know, a number of players, many of them prominent names from legendary teams, are now stepping up to sue the league for the very thing it has just punished the Saints for doing. In fact the league is well aware that the Saints program was not unique but instead has been common place league-wide for decades. All one has to do is ask a player. What more evidence is required? Not only a pay-for-play program. That's minor. The league itself is guilty of a far worse crime if held to the same standard supposed by Roger Goodell. When a player was truly too injured to play, bounty program or otherwise, teams used injections and threats of all sorts to get them back on the field. This isn't news. The league is well aware, and yet for decades did nothing to stop it. Don't take my word for it. Ask any player from any team in any era - even today.

The league is aiming to do all it can do to lessen its own punishment when these players have their day in court. It has, in essence, snitched on one of its own franchises in an effort to save its own hide in court. Do not believe for any amount of time that the motivation for "BountyGate" is otherwise. It isn't. This is nothing more than an over-the-top gesture - a nod to the court for the time when the league must also take some of its own medicine, and that day is surely coming.

It's hard to say who, ultimately, is at fault, but this masking of its true self is nothing short of what the league has accused many in the Saints organization of doing - lying. The league is lying to itself in the mirror, and to me, and you, and anyone else who is a fan of the game. Just as BountyGate happened on Sean Payton's watch, so too has this 'revelation' that the league looked the other way while teams did all they could do, and with questionable ethics, to get players back on the field in the name of image and profit, happened under Roger Goodell's watch.

My question to all who come to this discussion with an open mind and without any team bias is, why should Goodell be allowed to skate? From my point of view, he is at the very least as guilty as anyone in the Saints organization and is responsible for crimes far less ethical if due to nothing more than the fact than so much more money is at stake league-wide than it ever was or will be for a given team.

The hypocrisy is blinding. The sad state we as fans of football find ourselves in is truly deflating. Never again will we enjoy the same spirit of competition many of us came to rely on - the very thing that attracted us to the game. Players, especially the 2nd and 3rd tier majority, simply cannot afford the volume and value of fines Roger Goodell is mandating for infractions as brutal as a grazing of the QBs helmet as a defender tries desperately to change his mid-air trajectory from its initial path away from a moving target. What will result is a watered-down version of the game similar to the style played in area football. There will be reduced at best and all but eliminated at worst defensive effort.

Football as we know it is gone, and it will never return. Who knows that had the league been more proactive with its own responsibilities over the years whether we'd see such drastic rule changes as the ones we've seen the last few years or not? Roger Goodell's legacy will prove him to be the man under who's watch the NFL began its decline. Mark my words. The game will never be the same, and that isn't good for anyone - the fans, the owners, the players, and certainly for the NFL. Thanks Roger, for blame shifting the National Football League to the brink of extermination. It isn't going to die, but in a few years nobody will care anyway. We'll all be digging the NHL.
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  1. Old Comment
    neugey's Avatar
    Much agreed. The league can't have it both ways.

    It's not just the NFL ... America is starting to ruin all it's team sports. The NHL, I'm afraid, will eventually catch up to the madness.
    Posted 03-21-2012 at 06:25 PM by neugey neugey is offline

  2. Old Comment
    |Mitch|'s Avatar
    Very nicely said!
    Posted 03-22-2012 at 02:14 AM by |Mitch| |Mitch| is offline
  3. Old Comment
    No, not the NHL too! ... but this is what professional sports is coming to ... do you play the game as it was intended or do you protect yourself from lawsuits? We live in a litigious society, be prepared for all professional, contact sports to go the way of professional wrestling ... it'll all just be scripted entertainment ... "and in this corner" ...
    Posted 03-23-2012 at 06:49 AM by SloMotion SloMotion is offline
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