Bountygate harms NFL’s public image


Author: Damian Mendieta

Amid a turbulent start to the season with replacement referees, more woe has returned to rain down upon the NFL. Bountygate, as dubbed by the media a few years ago, and the investigation that followed gave sanctions to the culprits involved. In light of overwhelming evidence, foolish players continue to plead innocence to their crimes. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has often been attacked for being too oppressive an official. However, a tough Commissioner is what the league needs right now. 

It boggles the mind why Anthony Hargrove doesn’t shut his mouth and sit tight until his eight-game ban is over . He’s lucky he did not get a lifetime ban for trying to knock out Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game. In fact, he’s lucky outraged Vikings center John Sullivan did not come after him with half the Vikings behind him. 

A bounty program reduces America’s favorite sport into a mindless round of target practice. So far a list of four players of the 2009 Saints, which includes Hargrove, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Scott Fujita, have received sanctions. The consequences these four teammates faced were unbelievably soft. These disgraceful players, and everyone involved, deserve lifetime bans from field. 

The league has not done all it can to make sure bounties are not a problem in the future. The supposed main perpetrator, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, was banned indefinitely from the NFL. But that is not enough. Williams is eligible to apply for reinstatement at the end of this current season, or one season since the league handed out his sanction. 

This ordeal that the league faces might not seem too important right now, as there are other distractions, such as replacement refs, that are forcing the bounty scandal onto the back burner. Yet, this mess could come back to bite Goodell and company later. By not making a powerful statement against bounties, the league’s top officials will inevitably allow pay-as-you-injure defensive strategies to become the norm.

While some see cheating as another way of winning, integrity is sacrificed in the process. In war there are no rules and honor is only for fools; but sports should not be nearly as terrifying as warfare. Though athletes must undertake daunting physical challenges, they are ultimately participating in games with rules.  

These multi-million dollar athletes owe it to the fans who so eagerly give up their greenbacks to watch them perform, buy their merchandise and proudly wear their jerseys. Athletes must play the game with honor and respect for those who made them stars in the first place. 

Have sports been so perverted that players are now willing to, and perhaps even bullied to, cheat to stay on top? This cannot be the legacy modern athletes leave behind. It’s tempting to cash in bounties when they look as though they are “part of the game” for players. Tighter restrictions and sanctions on further bountying will help the NFL dodge a speeding bullet aimed at the integrity of the sport.



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