NFL fans and commentators are up in arms amid revelations that acclaimed coach and coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged his defenders to injure opponents, for which they'd collect bounties. Many were quick to point out that both Kurt Warner's and Brett Favre's careers were seemingly ended by hits they sustained several years ago at the hands of New Orleans Saints' players, during Williams' time running the defense. Williams now faces punishment from the league, to be announced later this month. Now the league is reportedly looking into Williams' time with the Washington Redskins, too.
Since the reports came out, several players have said that these types of bounties take place "all around the league." The league is rightfully taking the situation seriously. There could even be legal issues at hand. "There truly was a code among players once upon a time, concerning the balance between playing hard for yourself and your team, and respecting the careers of your fellow competitors," says David Steele at the Sporting News. "It wasn't always followed. Today, it continues to be proven, it doesn't exist at all." Here's a rundown of what some commentators are saying about the scandal, and what we should expect:
"This is more than cheating. This is inhuman. This mocks the brotherhood and solidarity of the players' union. This is deliberately trying to injure a fellow competitor for financial reward, at a time when many former players are blaming and suing the NFL for ignoring safety risks."
"Goodell surely didn't want this scandal, not after the NFL came off a triumphant season with labor peace and television contracts wrapped up for much of the next decade. He would have much preferred to bask in the glow of a thrilling Super Bowl and watch proudly as NFL draft talk dominated the offseason. But it has given him the perfect opportunity to take a stand, a great chance to show he's serious about protecting players. He can be tough, and he should be tough. Send the message that hitting to hurt no longer pays."
"Great defenses are angry defenses. I've been around too many good defensive players to think otherwise. Some of the best defensive coaches I've covered encouraged a sharks-in-the-water mentality. They wanted their guys to instill fear in the opponent, sense it, then obliterate everything in their path. What the Saints did went way over the line, no doubt. It should and will be punished. But nobody can say that this is a totally isolated situation. It's part of the game, an extreme part, pushed too far, in a sport where crossing the line is often rewarded, however you do it."
"The NFL lacks the credibility and the motivation to fully expose whatever dark ecosystem we have just stumbled upon. The investigation summary released on Friday afternoon -- a time zone well known as the media graveyard for press releases, one favored by strategic communications consultants of a certain unembarrassed type -- is the equivalent of the general counsel at Goldman Sachs or Bank of America disclosing a few problems on the bank's mortgage trading floor. A self-policing investigator has an interest in cleaning up the mess in a way that minimizes liability."
"The NFL takes all of that seriously, but the investigation into the Saints was certainly spurred more by the league's concern for safety, which has been dramatically enhanced by former players heading to court to challenge what the league knew about head injuries and kept to itself...The punishment will have to be severe, but it won't make the league any safer. Ultimately, almost everyone in the NFL earns his keep by risking his own health and threatening that of others."