Football & Sin, Part 2: New Orleans’ “Bounties”

English: Kurt Warner at the post-game press co...
Kurt Warner is among those allegedly targeted for injury with "Bounties" (Image by Sean Daly, via Wikipedia)

After writing recently about the fact that football (and the watching of it) is not inherently sinful, the news out this  weekend (actually saw it Friday) strikes me as worth mentioning.

The NFL is accusing the New Orleans Saints of putting “bounties” on opposing players. As reported by the AP:

New Orleans Saints players and at least one assistant coach maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opposing players, including Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, the NFL said Friday. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.

The NFL said the pool amounts reached their height in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.

The league said between 22 and 27 defensive players were involved in the program and that it was administered by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, with the knowledge of coach Sean Payton.

Williams apologized for his role, saying: “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”

That is absolutely reprehensible, and if the penalty is simply going to be fines and other sorts of “hand slaps” the league should be ashamed of itself. Is it too much to suspend a team for a season for such a thing? Personally, I don’t think so. Would “innocent” players be effected by such a decision? Yes. At the same time, then maybe they would police their own better.

And let me say one more thing in the limited time I have: Why are formal, criminal charges not being mentioned? Someone else mentioned this to me, once: Why is it that violence (say, rushing the pitcher on the mound to punch him in the face) is criminal outside of the arena but simply fined or overlooked even inside the arena? Why is what would otherwise be criminal activity ignored when it happens on a ballfield? (Seriously, feel free to educate me: Is it because the “victim” does not press charges?)

In this case, you have–very literally–hits being bought on other individuals… Money promised in return for causing physical harm and injury to another person. Why is this just a “league” matter and not something criminal?

I reiterate what I said before: There is nothing inherently sinful in playing or watching football. Every sport has its excesses and abuses and wrong attitudes are possible in any competitive endeavor. (Even figure skating: remember Tonya Harding?) Such attitudes are sinful, no matter what sport they show up in.

But, seriously: Why are these bounties not crimes?

Regardless, they are certainly sin.

23 thoughts on “Football & Sin, Part 2: New Orleans’ “Bounties”

  1. Don W.

    I remember in my junior year in high school when we played our cross county rival, before the game each player contributed $1 to be given to the player who caused one of the opposing players to be injured and removed from the game. As it turned out an opposing player was injured but one of our linebackers made a game saving/game winning interception and he was given the money and he took the money and bought softdrinks for the whole team.

    Today, I hate high school and college football because they break the Sabbath. I wish I had never played the game. I used to worship the football heroes and now I regret I ever gave one second of my time to the devotion of such useless waste of energy.

    My grandfather was a professional player and later game official in Australian football. My grandmother came over here to the USA and refused to watch American football because she said they looked like sissies wearing pads. (My grandfather was injured in a game that resulted in losing one of his kidneys.) He then became an official and had to have a car waiting for him at the end of the field so at the end of the game he could outrun the locals because he would call the game right and had to make calls many times against the home team.

    No football in my city…….

  2. Such reprehensible actions as bounty systems and the like are probably not considered crimes because sporting leagues tend to very jealously guard conduct within their own domains, to be the lords of their own competitions, and to have outside police power exercised against in-game activity strikes many sporting leagues as unacceptable. After all, most sports leagues are legally permitted monopolies and they jealously guard those antitrust exemptions and the power that results from them in terms of both money and power.

  3. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Ever see the movie Rollerball? I’m not saying you should (therein is a sport where gratuitous violence is, indeed, part of the sport), but I find myself thinking, “not Rollerball, but one step closer to a society where such a thing would be tolerated even when people realize deep down that such a thing is wrong.”

  4. This is a very sad development, just as players being bribed to throw games or play or not play in such a way as to cause their team or themselves individually to lost the contest in which they are engaged. The effect of ” fillthy lucre ” ? When you wrote on sport previously I submitted comments and mentioned the Irish sports of Hurling and Gaelic football. Both of these games are played by amateurs by active people from and early age up into their 50’s. The majority of adults participating are employed or have their own businesses or profession. All of them make enormous sacrifices in giving up their time for training and playing. Only in recent years have the players been insured for injuries suffered as a result, but prior to that those who had been injured seriously enough as to prevent them from working received token compensation for loss of earning by the governing body the Gaelic Athletic Association.

    Depite that the love of the games were so great that these athletes kept on playing after recovery from their injuries. However in recent years there has been a campaign to introduce payment for those engaged in these games, but the payment couldn’t be construed as wages or salaries . . . . yet. It hasn’t come to pass so far, although some managers of teams have been. But in recent years there have been a trends that negate this great tradition Teams which have won the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final have gone to New York to play against New York Gaelic football teams in Gaelic Park, New York. Whichever counties has gone there people from their respective counties who live and work in New York organize functions at which donations are sought for these ” amateurs ” and quite large sums of money have been presented to these teams. The money has been divided amonst the players, but not always equally and this has led to divisions and ill-feeling within some teams.

    For many years the Olympics was supposedly run on amateur lines. However it cannot be denied that Olympians from the Eastern bloc dominated by the Soviet Union and other Marxist-Leninist states were to all intents and purposes professional athletes. But that old Olympic ideal of amateur sportsmen and women competing has all but gone by the wayside. That it is largely professional athletes taking part in the Olympics today surely must have some bearing on the ” win at all costs ” mentality and the fact that it is now suspected that the large majority of those taking part use performance enhancing drugs in order to attain ” victory ” in whatever discipline in which they compete is certainly disheartening to those who still retain a love of amatuer sport and are imbued with the old
    long-lost integrity all sports must have had when first played.

  5. Zono Riggs

    These bounties are not considered criminal for the same reason abortion is not. The hearts of men have turned cold. We have all read comparisons of our modern day America with the depravity of the Roman Empire at its worse. The government fed the masses and provided the games for them to be entertained. In those days as well, unwanted babies were thrown in garbage piles and left to die. It is sobering to consider how much worse Israel’s sin must become before our Father declares enough! It can get to the point that those who lose their lives in the natural disasters God is unleashing on this country, may really be the ones blessed. We must remind ourselves that all are victims, held captive by Satan in his depraved world. Only Christ can set things right.

  6. steve

    “Why is it what would otherwise be criminal activity [is] ignored when it happens on the ball field.”

    As you hinted, it’s the money. Professional football is a billion dollar business – for owners, players, and TV networks. Outside of an impotent slap on the wrist, the league probably isn’t going to do anything. Money can pervert almost anything.

    You know, I actually watched the pro bowl this year? Even though it’s tackle football, the pro bowl is notorious for the two teams playing only at half speed; with players taking care that nobody gets seriously hurt. I like that. Not only do you get to see the top professionals, you get to see them laughing and congratulating members of the opposing team.

  7. Steven

    Why stop there with the “legal approach” to things? Why not file a lawsuit everytime there is a fight in hockey? Simply nonsense! Is it right that players intentionally try to hurt others? Of course not, but like the old saying goes “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” In other words, don’t play a violent game unless you are willing to deal with the possibility of “dirty play” or “cheap shots”. Otherwise, just shut down all professional sports, period.

  8. [Sorry for the delay in comment moderation; I’ve been pretty busy the last few days!]

    Steve (Lee): Thanks for the info about the Pro Bowl. Makes me wish I had watched it! The differences there should be reflected on.

    Steven (Schembri): Not all “dirty play” or “cheap shots” are criminal, and you fail to make a distinction. If you think that criminal activity should be allowed because it is simply a part of the “heat” in the kitchen, your understanding is, at best, nonsensical. I suppose that if the opposing team’s water boy had been bribed to slip barbituates and other narcotics into the water supply, that shouldn’t be dealt with as a crime, either? Hey, what if the other team’s coach hired a bunch of prostitutes to get key players drunk, take scandalous pictures of them, and then use those to shame them off the team? Why not! If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, right? In fact, where do you find snipers in the Yellow Pages?…

    Well, of course none of that is right. Illegal is illegal, and hiring someone to purposefully injure someone else is not part of the game, and it doesn’t belong in the kitchen — it belongs in the prison yard.

    See Fran Tarkenton’s commentary in today’s WSJ. Here’s an excerpt:

    “I played football professionally for 18 years. I played against some of the toughest men imaginable. Mean Joe Greene. Deacon Jones. Bob Lilly. Ray Nitschke. Dick Butkus. Jack Youngblood. And I risked getting hit more than any other quarterback of my day. No one ran more than I did—forwards, backwards, and side-to-side.

    “But in those 18 years, I only missed five games due to injury. My opponents wanted to beat me, and they certainly wanted to hit me to achieve that goal—but no one wanted to hurt another player deliberately. For all our competitive fire, and despite that strong desire to destroy our opposition, as professional NFL players we were part of a brotherhood. There was no joy in seeing someone injured on the field of play, even if it gave our team a better chance to win. After all, we wanted to prove that we were the best; and to be the best, you have to beat the best—not beat the JV.

    “But with the bounty system run by Mr. Williams, football as a fierce but honorable competition is dropped on its head.”

    Amen, Tarkenton.

    Illegal is illegal. Criminal is criminal. When the tactics of the prison yard begin to show up in our coaching and playing, our coaches and players deserve to begin showing up in the prison yard.

  9. Steven

    Once again my friend, you missed my point completely. Based on your tirade, it sounds like anything that doesn’t agree with the rulebook is illegal. Again, why not file a lawsuit everytime there is a hockey fight? Assault is assault, right? A person will get charged if they get into a fight on the street, but in a hockey game it’s ok? That is illegal is it not? Hypocrisy is what I call it. Therefore, why not just ban all sport except for maybe “lawn bowling”? I don’t think there is anything that could be considered “illegal” with that game.

  10. Steven, did you read what I actually wrote in my comment? Because your comment doesn’t make sense if you did.

    Paying someone to injure someone else else isn’t illegal because it isn’t in the rule book. Paying someone to injure someone else is illegal because it’s actually a crime. Pass interference is a foul. Hiring a hit to break a bone or purposefully cause a concussion is illegal.

    And I agree, the willingness for hockey players to act in ways for which children would be chided is shameful. (Actually, lawsuits have occurred as a result of hockey fights.)

    If it is hypocrisy, as you claim, for hockey players to assault someone without being charged but for people on the street to do so and be arrested, then which way do we go with the resolution of that dilemma: allowing assult on the streets or recognizing crime in the arena? You make my point for me. (Thanks!)

  11. Steven

    The solution is simple. There are three options. 1) Have athletes sign a waiver stating that they UNDERSTAND there is the “possibility” of corrupt/illegal behavior in whatever sport they are going to be involved in and are willing to accept whatever might happen as a result during a game. 2) Athletes should simply not participate in sports known to have “illegal” activity (on moral grounds) or 3) Ban all sports known to have such “illegal” activity. The choice is yours. Personally, I would go with option #1. I enjoy watching (and participating in) sports, so my point is, if you want to get involved, you MUST KNOW AUTOMATICALLY that there is an inherent risk, especially in a sport like football, hockey or rugby.

    As for your article on football specifically, I am surprised that you are surprised that this sort of thing goes on. That is quite naive, however, not everyone is as knowledgable about the “behind the scenes happenings” in sport like myself. What should/can be done is whatever the NFL collective bargaining agreement allows for with respect to discipline in such matters. That is the “legal” answer. If you want a “moral” answer, then ban the players/coach(es) “proven” to be involved for life and heavily fine them with the money going to those affected = restitution.

    When I used to play hockey, the league I was in had a simple rule when it came to “intentionally injuring” or “fighting”. If you were caught the first time, it would be an automatic full season suspension. If you were caught a second time, you would be banned for LIFE! When that rule was put in, amazingly enough, there were still many players getting suspended and banned, but it was fun nonetheless. I have learned that in recent times, that rule has virtually eliminated that type of nonsense. In other words, they now “get it”. Players that want to play should be allowed to do so, but the idiots are the ones we can all do without.

    It drives me nuts when people want to get the law involved when it comes to sport. The only time that should happen is if someone dies. Case in point, the Casey Cizikas/Manny Castillo incident in 2007. The United States is way too litigious as it is. Case in point, when a woman can sue McDonald’s and win $2.7 + million for spilling coffee in her lap…….Now THAT is a CRIME!!! Come on! People need to stop worrying about silly things and concentrate on what’s really important in life.

  12. Wow, Steven, your “reasoning” continues to astound. Let me help you see it.

    Your comment about what you enjoyed about hockey not only fails to contradict anything I’ve said (like your hockey example, the coaches and players willing to pay/receive $10,000+ for truly attempting to harm and injure people should be banned for life, so we’re on the same page, there), it presents nonsensical “non-solutions.”

    When it comes to the law being involved, you say, “The only time that should happen is if someone dies.” Really? Ignore any crime committed on the field unless there is a death? Are you kidding? That comment is so startlingly nonsensical (and shockingly unchristian), it isn’t even worthy of a response.

    As for your constant carping about lawsuits, you don’t seem to recognize that there is a difference between filing a lawsuit and committing a crime. Are you even reading what I write? You are the only one who keeps talking about lawsuits; I’m talking about crimes. Your failure to note that difference makes most of what you say completely irrelevant.

    (My mention of the hockey lawsuit was a follow up to your own comment, as lawsuits don’t interest me. We’re talking about actual crimes, not just “personal wrongs.”)

    By the way, I’m not sure where I said I would be “surprised” if these sorts of things ever happened. (You mentioned that right before you talked about how knowledgable you are.) I remember writing this:

    “Well, if malice–the intent to cause physical or mental harm and damage–were a necessary part of the game, then yes it would [be evil]. And surely some football players do this, and that is wrong. But not only is it not necessary in playing football, purposeful causing of harm is just as present in other sports… In a world that teaches winning at all costs, a ‘Sweep the leg, Johnny’ attitude is everywhere.”

    So, if I said that I was surprised, it was a slip of the tongue. Perhaps you can show me where I said it so that I can correct it? Or if I didn’t say it but you got the impression I did, perhaps you can point out the passage that influenced you so?

    I want to respect your difference of opinion, Steven, but providing a strong argument in favor of that opinion would help. You’ve gone on and on about frivolous lawsuits, and I don’t think anyone reading here would disagree with what you are saying. I hate frivolous lawsuits, too. But I don’t think actual crimes should be ignored. On this matter, you’ve said nothing. (Again, not counting your abysmal, “only if there’s a death” comment, since I won’t let myself imagine you really believe that.)

  13. Steven

    I find the way you communicate to be very much like me talking to a mixture of Spock and Data from Star Trek and in addition, you combine those two with the HAL 9000 computer from 2001 a Space Odyssey. There is no (what I would call) “Three dimensional thinking”. It’s either yes or no, point and counterpoint. There seems to be a lack of “creativity” in understanding what I am saying. We are not programming a computer for Heaven’s sake!

    Next, “The only time that should happen is if someone dies.” Yes, REALLY! If we did things “your way”, we would have police officers at every single sporting event on planet earth. That seems quite unrealistic does it not? That is what we have officials for. To clarify (because it seems like I have to constantly do that), I agree with you that illegal or “criminal” (since you like that word so much) activity in the arena of sport should be removed. The question is, how to do that. If you read my last post, I have presented solutions for you to consider (BASED on “YOUR WAY” of thinking).

    Back to what you said. I am going to use “your HAL 9000” style of thinking or arguing a point. “We’re talking about actual crimes, not just “personal wrongs.”” Oh really? Well, let’s take that a step further. If someone steals an opposing player’s shoulder pads either for a joke or so that he can not play, is that not a crime? A crime is a crime is it not? Theft is theft. Just like there is no such thing as a “white lie”. A lie is a lie. Again, to clarify, lying is not a “crime” unless it is in certain situations eg. lying to a police officer or when under oath. Therefore, ANYTHING that a player does that is a “crime” should have that person charged with some sort of offence (under “YOUR WAY” of doing things). If that is the case (by “your way” of doing things), virtually every single athlete who has ever participated in a sport HAS ALREADY COMMITTED a “crime” and should be charged with something. Is that what you want? I certainly do not.

    Back to getting the law involved. I will use hockey once again as the example. In recent times, there have been two major situations (in the National Hockey League) that have gone to court due to the “seriousness” of an injury that was sustained. Those two incidents were Marty McSorley & Donald Brashear, and the other would be Todd Bertuzzi & Steve Moore. You can look them up for all the details. Point being (again, in order to clarify) that BOTH were considered “crimes” and were dealt with in a court of law. I COMPLETELY disagree with BOTH! Yes, both situations were severe and wrong by the guilty party (that is not in dispute), BUT like paying money to intentionally hurt another player in football, these occurrences should have been handled by the NHL…..PERIOD! No police, no lawyers etc. etc. Your definition of “crime” is the problem. That would be like someone signing up for a martial arts tournament and getting kicked in the back so of the head so viciously the person becomes a quadraplegic. The injured person says that a “crime” has been committed and has the other person charged with assault. Say what?! Hold on a sec. there. When someone signs up for martial arts (or mixed martial arts aka MMA), that person KNOWS the RISK! If you want to avoid any “crime” whether it is gambling, assault or whatever, then don’t get involved in the first place! That is 100% effective 100% of the time! I don’t know how much more clear I can make that point.

    Back to my point “The only time that should happen is if someone dies”, I did NOT SAY that officials shouldn’t be involved, I said the LAW should NOT BE involved! Since you probably will not understand what I mean by “officials”, I guess I should clarify that as well. The term “official” would refer to an authority representing a governing body in a given sport. For example, if in a soccer match a player intentionally kicks a person with his cleats in the head and thus commits assault (which is a crime, not just a “wrong doing”), then (assuming it was professional soccer, for sake of argument) it would be and SHOULD BE “FIFA” deciding the punishment and NOT the local police.

    Let’s clarify once again. First, you need to define what a “crime” is. Are you talking about a “crime” against the league/other player, or a criminal offence which breaches the “criminal code” in a GIVEN JURISDICTION? Moreover, you ALSO need to define which sorts of “crimes” should be handled by the league (in your article’s case, the NFL) or by the police. That seems to be the source of the confusion here.

    Therefore, to recap and clarify YET AGAIN, the solution to YOUR ARTICLE is:

    1) Don’t get involved in a sport where a “crime” is likely to be committed; and/or

    2) If a GENUINE “crime” HAS BEEN SHOWN to be committed (in the CONTEXT OF SPORT) by a guilty party, then I submit to you that ONLY the league should have the jurisdiction to enforce punishment and NOT the legal authorities UNLESS someone has died. It’s so simple and it makes so much sense. “MY WAY” eliminates lawsuits and places RESPONSIBILITY AS WELL AS THE RISK with the injured party. If someone gets hurt via “malice” or whatever, then it is SOLELY the league’s responsibility to administer justice and NOT the legal system! If someone dies, THEN and ONLY THEN does it cross the line from a sporting matter to a criminal matter! If you don’t like that system (which is for the most part how it is now), then DON’T PARTICIPATE in sport! Otherwise, don’t play professional football, stick to the house leagues.

  14. (A lot of capital letters there, my friend. Take a breath, brother!)

    Steven, you can make a bad point as clearly as you like, it’s still a bad point. The idea that you place paying people tens of thousands of dollars to illegally maim someone on the field (as long as it’s short of murder, you say) on the same level as a prank (which, no, is not necessarily illegal) shows your lack of sense and scope in the matter.

    And you don’t seem to have a sense of how you come across, either. The “only if there is a death” comment was a chance for you to backtrack and say something sensible, even to make your case stronger. Instead, you double down. For instance, your stance says that if a coach pays players to gouge out a quarterback’s eyeballs during a sack, or to shred his calves with their cleats while he’s down, you say that it shouldn’t be handled by the police or the law, just the NFL. No, Steven, such a person should be locked up. Really, your position could actually be made stronger if you would simply say something sensible in its favor.

    (Adding (even with capital letters) “in the context of sport” is too vague to help you. When the lines are purposefully crossed so are the borders that define the “context of sport.”)

    Your MMA example is a good one for demonstrating that you are missing the point. Yes, someone engaged in MMA is responsible for the risk that a hit may be so vicious that he becomes permanently injured, as that is a reasonable expectation. No, an MMA participant is not responsible for the risk that his opposition’s trainer or promoter might promise him a million dollar bonus if he gouges out the man’s eyeballs by sticking his thumbs deep into his eyesockets so that he is blinded for life. The trainer/promoter/whatever and the fighter should be imprisoned for breaking the law, not just penalized in the sport. Such individuals should be taken off the street. (Not approving of MMA, by the way…)

    Similarly: In football, you have a reasonable expectation that in the course of a game you might be hit so bad that you are injured, perhaps permanently and perhaps by someone breaking the rules. You also have a reasonable expectation that no one is going to commit a felony by paying a “hit man” $50,000 to purposefully ruin the rest of your life. The fact that you don’t seem to be able to see the difference between these two things is why your arguments constantly come up short. Not that your stand isn’t defensible; just that you haven’t defended it well.

    And by the way, it was Spock who was able to think three-dimensionally and suggest it to Kirk in ST2:TWOK. So now your Star Trek analogy is faulty, too. 🙂

    Perhaps if you can one day take the place of Roger Goodell (I seem to know more than you assume I do), we can all look forward to a sport in which “wounding shots, only” snipers are paid to sneak into the arena, Gatorade coolers of opponents get drugged with near-lethal levels of barbituates, and hired “one game only” thugs are allowed to rip helmets off of downed quarterbacks just long enough to gouge out their eyes and kick them into brain damage, since, you know, no one died or anything, and that person will be so kicked out of the league!… (“Ma’am, I know your husband will be a blind quadriplegic all his life, because the opposing coach paid a player $1,000,000 to purposefully make him that way. But don’t worry: We’re not letting him coach anymore. Have fun, and Commissioner Schembri sends his regards.”)

    Your system may be simple, but it is morally abhorrent (and, thus, far short of sensible). And it isn’t even the simplest system.

    Rather, rules violations should be handled by the league’s disciplinary system, to be sure. And, in addition, those few, rare egregious violations that also represent actual crimes should also be handled by the criminal justice system. Simpler and more sensible.

    I have no problem, by the way, with players’ signing agreements not to pursue lawsuits and to allow the League to mediate all such disputes. But a felony? No way. If my family lives next to someone willing to commit a violent felony, I want him to have the same accountability to the law that I do, regardless of his profession. How weird that you don’t agree.

    In those very rare instances in which something rises to the attention of law enforcement (as these bounties should), might it be hard to determine in some cases whether or not a crime has been committed? Sure, that’s always the case. What is startling, Steven, is that you actually argue that only actual murders on the field deserve legal attention. That sort of moral reasoning is truly frightening.

  15. Norbert

    I disagree with the idea that governing authority of the state should have little or no place within sports and the sporting authorities have the major say in their fields of business.

    When violence happens in the workplace in general and injuries occur, the government here in Canada takes a keen interest in the events. Depending on the situation and severity of the violence, they have the power to completely shut down the offending business. Whether in a direct order to do so or indirectly by stipulating specific requirements that the workplace needs to meet in order to stay open.

    I know all about the above, I worked for a business that was operating for 50 years that closed it doors because someone had their knee seriously injured and the government stepped in creating the latter scenario of stipulating requirements the the owners couldn’t risk to afford.

    The view that the ruling government should have little or no business in the business of sports shows how the cumulative interests of people within a society have created their own rich man and poor man occupations. Make no mistake, the issue of governing behavior is greater than those playing on the field, it includes those spectators who are blinded by their own partiality by making unjust distinctions between different ways of earning a livelyhood. Which is another reason why governments turn a blind eye to criminal behavior on the sporting field, they are also an integral part of the cumulative interests and LUSTS of the people.

  16. It’s a little late, I know, but I found this blog post by one of my favorite sports writers, Joe Posnanski, on the subject. He wrote for the Kansas City Star for a number of years and now writes for Sports Illustrated and is a Pulitzer Prize winner. (As an aside, he’s covered the morality of sports before, concerning cheating and others subjects.) Here’s his take, Mr. Smith, if you’re willing to allow the link:

  17. Steven

    God truly is at work here since the NFL (not the police), but the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE has rendered its judgment on those guilty. Here is what I have been saying all along. Let sports leagues GOVERN THEMSELVES and keep the law OUT OF IT unless the matter is so severe that one has no other choice (eg. death of an athlete). Justice has been done. I have been vindicated and things worked out the way they are SUPPOSED TO and NOT the way the “Tree Hugging” people out there would like i.e. getting the police involved (GIVE ME A BREAK!)

    Thank you Commissioner Roger Goodell! I think I will put a life sized portrait of Mr. Goodell in my office at work.

    I rest my case.

  18. Mike: Sorry for the delay in posting your comment; I’ve been out of town for the last week. But the link is fantastic, and the guy makes excellent points! Thanks for passing it along, and some should really read what he has to say. Speaking of whom…

    Steven: Steven, let me be honest. Sometimes you speak in such a manner that I have to work hard to assume you aren’t as “challenged” in judgment as your words make you appear. Your recent post is an excellent example. For instance:

    (1) Who said that the NFL shouldn’t do anything? Of course they had to do something, and I think everyone is glad that they are.

    (2) What in the world does this vindicate for you? The fact that something happened that everyone said should happen somehow vindicates you? [Note: Even I said “rules violations should be handled by the league’s disciplinary system, to be sure.”] Why would something happening that both you and I (and every sensible thinking person in the world) think should have happened somehow vindicate you?

    (3) Why would believing that a crime should be punished as a crime make someone a “tree hugger”? That’s just weird, Steven.

    (4) Have you even read the great comment above by Norbert? Or the excellent link provided by Mike? You’ve answered none of their comments (nor, really, any of mine), and yet you continue to hold to a terribly unchristian position that laws don’t apply equally to everyone. How weird.

    (5) And, again, you bring up the insane idea that the law shouldn’t be involved unless there is a murder on the field. “Well, Bob, he didn’t kill him; rather, he only ripped off his helmet and gouged out his eyes with a pencil he had hidden in his shoulder pad. Good thing we won’t need the ‘law’ involved, eh?” Incredible. When you have a child who becomes paralyzed for life on the football field because the opposing coach payed one of his players to make him that way, you’ll still have my sympathy even if you don’t know why you need it.

    (6) I hope you were being silly/funny in thinking that God had anything to do with this decision. Because… well… do I really have to say?

    Finally, you say, “I rest my case,” though I’m not sure how you can say that given that (1) Mr. Goodell’s actions provide zero evidence in your favor, and (2) you haven’t really made a “case” at all (using capital letters, calling people names, and ignoring everyone’s arguments against your position isn’t really making a “case”). However, I do hope that you will, indeed, “rest your case” since your comments on this topic have become really tiresome and of no profit whatsoever — not even to your own opinion.

    I don’t mind hearing from someone who takes position that there should be no legal consequences to the illegal aspects of the bounty program. I really don’t. But I’d prefer comments that (1) make sense, and (2) actually consider the other arguments being made instead of pretending that they don’t exist, as if ignoring them makes them go away.

    So, please: Feel free to do as you say and rest your “case” on this topic. It would be appreciated.

  19. Steven

    The bottom line is, justice was done, and no matter what anyone says, it’s like the old expression goes “It is what it is”. In other words, the arena of sport by its very nature is DIFFERENT from reality. When an athlete enters that DIFFERENT REALITY known as the “Sporting Arena” he/she AUTOMATICALLY ACCEPTS THE FACT THAT THE RULES ARE DIFFERENT!!! Case in point, when one player punches another in the face in the game of hockey, it is a penalty, yet in the “Real World” it is assault. HOWEVER, you MUST REALIZE (since I can tell you are not an athlete – no disrespect intended), but the one who was punched in the face (in the hockey fight) KNOWS and ACCEPTS the FACT that the rules governing society OUTSIDE of the sporting arena (with very few exceptions) DO NOT APPLY to SPORT! If they did, then no one would want to play hockey because everyone would be charged with some sort of assault.

    It is an unwritten rule, and you may think it is “hypocrisy”, and I admit that it is…..BUUUUUUUUUUUT once again, the REALITY of LIFE is that when one signs up for a sport (ESPECIALLY A VIOLENT ONE LIKE FOOTBALL) that athlete ACCEPTS that hypocrisy, so why are people complaining about it? That is what the league is for. Part of it’s mandate IS to issue justice (when necessary). As far as not acknowledging your previous points or the other posters, you are all saying the same basic things. What I am saying is “THAT IS LIFE!” ACCEPT the REALITY of the situation. If you object, then DON’T participate and DEFINITELY DON’T COMMENT on things that WILL NOT CHANGE because THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO CHANGE IN SPITE of how “unfair” or “wrong” a circumstance might appear to be!!! Like I said, “It is what it is” whether you or anyone else likes it or not! That’s a fact!!! You cannot deny it. The EVIDENCE is what the outcome of this situation was. Did Roger Goodell get the police involved? Let me help you with the answer once again. The answer is not just “no”. The answer is a RESOUNDING “OF COURSE NOT!!!”

    IF you still have a problem with this discipline handed down by Mr. Goodell, then why don’t you do something about it? Obviously, you know far more about running a multi-billion dollar sports league than Mr. Goodell, so why don’t you pick up the phone and demand to speak with him and tell him why he is wrong? Better yet, also demand that he make changes in the NFL rulebook to reflect your (so-called) “Christian” view of things? I don’t recall reading anything in the Bible that states that authorities got involved in the injustice of “SPORT?” Regardless, the FACT is that “It is what it is”. Either accept it, or call Mr. Goodell.

  20. Now, Steven, you said that you rested your case. And here you got us all excited that you were done. 🙂 Now we have to wade through more capitalized letters. Oh well, let’s take a look…

    (1) You say that sports inhabits a “different reality,” but you really don’t establish that such a “different reality” should be allowed to exist. It is, however, an easy question to answer: No, a “reality” in which you can receive blood money to maim a person for life on purpose should not be allowed to exist. Crimes are crimes.

    [By the way: I do notice that you don’t comment on the examples I give that demonstrate how silly your “only death counts” position is. I don’t blame you for not commenting on them specifically, since there really is nothing you can say about them that would make sense, but I do want you to know that your silence is noticed. And what your silence says is appreciated. 🙂 ]

    (2) So, what sort of athlete are you (that is, currently) that you feel my not being an athlete these days means I can’t understand anything being discussed here? I have competed athletically before as a young man, but I’m not sure how it is relevant. There are a lot of things “I can tell” about you, but I’m careful enough not to allow those things to affect my judgment about the nature of your arguments. The fact that you have to qualify your statements with an “only an athlete would know” element of “support” only shows how weak your arguments really are. If they were strong, it would not be relevant whether or not you and I were athletes. (And, again: What sport do you currently play?)

    (3) Who says that it is good that hockey allows childish fights between adults? Who says that the players’ acceptance of this makes it acceptible in general? And who says no one would want to play hockey unless they were allowed to assault others? I’m sorry, that’s just nonsensical.

    You are saying that it is impossible for hockey to exist without allowing players to assault each other. Ridiculous. They assault each other because they are allowed to assault each other. If it were punished harshly enough, it wouldn’t happen–simple as that. Humanity always acts to the limits (and usually a margin further) of what is allowed. You argue in circles: “It must be allowed because it is currently allowed.” Not the best reasoning, chief.

    (4) Your “arguments” about just accepting hypocrisy, “the reality of the situation,” the “fact” that things “will not change” so “don’t comment” on them, and that “it is what it is” are so empty as to be barely worth mentioning. Many of the “arguments” you use there would contradict your own stands on most everything else (government, politicians, banking, religion, etc.). So, let’s move on, huh?

    (5) Who in the world expected Roger Goodell to get the police involved? In fact, who expected him to do so? More importantly for our discussion: Who even wanted him to do so? I certainly didn’t.

    You show how thoroughly you miss the point here when you assume that’s what I’ve wanted. I don’t want Roger Goodell to get the police involved — it isn’t his place. I wanted him to hand out a harsh penalty, which he did. Who wanted or expected more? I sure didn’t. That’s why his decision is not evidence for anything. He’s done exactly what was in his power to do, and no one (me included) expected or wanted him to do anything else. Pursuing criminal charges is not his place. The fact that you think the Goodell decision somehow supports your claims just goes to show how confused you are, Steven.

    Step out of your echo chamber for a bit and actually read the things that have been said here in a sincere effort to understand them, including the link Mike provided. Even if it doesn’t change your mind (and I’m beginning to think that nothing could), it at least might help you see through the fog to not only understand what is being said but even to enable you to make your own argument stronger (since, for now, it’s sort of a mess).

    (6) Related to (5): Who says I have a problem with the discipline handed down by Mr. Goodell? I was delighted that he handed down harsh penalties. In fact, I saw the report on ESPN while having dinner at a restaurant after taping some telecasts, and thought to myself, “Yes!”

    Again, that you think I would have a problem with Mr. Goodell’s decision only shows that you continue to talk and talk and talk without having any idea about what other people are truly saying.

    I applaud Mr. Goodell’s strong stand. I will similarly applaud any legitimate legal action taken by others (that is, those with actual standing in the matter) against those who committed crimes and intentionally harmed others for money. Why would I do anything else?

    (7) Finally, no, I’m not interested in seeing just the NFL reflect Christ’s view of things. I’m interested in seeing the whole world reflect Christ’s view of things. Just thought I’d make that clear. 🙂

    Steven, if you’re simply going to keep saying the same things (and IN CAPS, at that!) without actually trying to make sense of what others are saying, even if you don’t agree with their positions, then please do “rest your case.” We got it: You think that all things in sports short of actual murder should be handled purely within the sport. Really, we got it. All the capital letters in the world aren’t going to make your argument make any more sense that it currently does (or doesn’t), so feel free to sit back and relax a bit. The shift key you save may be your own.

  21. Devin Dubnyk

    I stumbled across this blog and this topic is of great interest to me since I play football and hockey. After reading all the comments, I think that the only one that really hits home and stands out is what Steven had to say. It’s true that intentionally trying to injure is wrong, but why do people want police involved? The moderator sounds like he is more interested in philosophy than how things work in the world. I thought it was ironic as well that in both leagues that I play in there is an actual rule that says no outside authorities will be asked to investigate a matter (i.e. the police) unless a death has occurred. For that, I couldn’t agree with Steven more.

    My question to the moderator is whether he has ever played hockey before? If the answer is no, then Steven is right, he has no clue what he is talking about. There is a reason why players who are not good enough for the NHL play in the Swedish Elite League or the KHL for example. Watching that kind of fairy hockey is horrible for fans, but it will do wonders if you can’t sleep well since there is virtually no body contact in those leagues.

    The moderator asked “Why are formal, criminal charges not being mentioned?” Is that not the whole premise of posting this article? The point being debated is whether such an activity should be criminally charged. From what I have read, Steven has stated many times that it should not be considered a crime. I agree wholeheartedly. He also cleverly pointed out that sports leagues do not reflect society. He also pointed out that because of this reality, althetes know what’s at stake regarding their safety. No matter what the moderator says, the point is that no criminal charges have been laid or will be laid, rightfully so. My question to Mr. Philiosophy would be if criminal charges should be laid as you say, then why have they not been? The code is in place and players know that, so what’s the problem? I had my leg broken by an intentional cheap shot in hockey 2 seasons ago. That player was suspended indefinitely, so I speak from experience. The point is, I did not go to the police and have charges laid on that player. I am not a baby. I accepted the risk and unfortunately I paid a price for playing, but it was worth it.

    I can understand why Steven did not respond to the moderator regarding the Death Rule. How many times can he explain how things work? The moderator simply can’t accept that what he says is the truth. No charges should ever be laid for this type of occurrence. If charges were put forth, that would fundamentally change sport, and that’s not what the players want.

  22. Hey, thanks for stopping by, Devin, and for giving Steven some love! You seem to miss part of my point, too, which I will explain (again), but in other points we simply have sincere disagreement.

    Where you miss my point (as does Steven) is that I don’t see a need for Goodell to get the police involved. The league should handle things through the means the league has at its disposal. If the World Chess Champion spikes the Perrier of his challenger with illegal barbituates, let them deal with that however their rules allow them to deal with that. But if the challenger wishes to press charges, I have no problem with that — a crime is a crime. Why is this distinction confusing to anyone at all?

    And, no, I haven’t played hockey. It adds no relevancy to your criticism or your argument in any way at all, but thanks for adding a fact to the universe. And who’s arguing that there should be no body contact in hockey? Certainly not me. Hockey, rugby, football — body contact is integral to the sport. We’re not talking about that. Who thinks we are?

    By the way, I agree that sports arenas do not reflect society. But they exist within society. Why you fellows get the latter but ignore the former, I do not know.

    I also agree that it is very unlikely that criminal charges will be filed. I don’t know anyone who thinks that charges are likely, especially given how dominant thinking such as yours and Steven’s is. The real question, as you state earlier, is whether or not this is “rightly so.” You ask that if criminal charges should be laid, then why have they not been? That is, of course, no relevant evidence at all in a world where what should happen does not always happen.

    As for explaining the “death rule,” I think we all get it. It isn’t a matter of explaining how things work. Who doesn’t get that? It’s a matter of properly defending it and explaining why the objections raised against it can be ignored. Something Steven, and you, have both failed to do. And my standing by the “death only” rule, you both continue to make the same mistake: When you could make your ultimate point (that somethings that would otherwise be criminal should be overlooked) more convincing and harder to refute, you, instead, stick by your guns and lump your more worthy idea in which something so easily seen as worthless. (For instance, it’s interesting to know that if someone paid one of your son’s opponents on the ice to permanently poke both his eyes out, neither one of you would press charges or anything. After all, he’s still breathing, amiright?)

    I’m glad that you thought your broken leg was worth it. Legally, there is no requirement to press charges, and when one absolves himself of using his right to press charges, that’s no skin off my back. But an individual whose life has been ruined and can no longer feed his wife and children because an opponent took money to purposefully injure him illegally? The idea that he somehow should not have the freedom to choose differently than you do or that he should be looked down on for doing so is repugnant to me. And it should be to you.

    (By the way, I’m glad you’re not a baby — a very impressive achievement, to be sure! And thanks for calling me Mr. Philosophy. Makes me feel like a superhero. A rather boring superhero, to be honest, but I’ll take what I can get.)

    I can accept that a player may not want to press charges against someone who commits a crime to harm him on the field. I’ve certainly accepted wrongs without seeking redress, and sometimes it is certainly the right choice. But to say that “No charges should ever be laid for this type of occurrance” — that makes no sense, and is far too sweeping a statement. If egregious crimes were treated like crimes, in the arena or not, I agree: it would change something in the sport. But I don’t think it would be a bad thing.

    Thanks for stopping by, and I do appreciate your comments. Honestly, if it weren’t for the whole “unless someone is purposefully killed, there is no place for the law” vibe in y’all’s comments, I would find some of what you say more convincing. There is definitely something worthwhile to having men agree to give each other some latitude, knowing that they are going to be playing a very physical sport which may involve visceral reactions that, while even though they will struggle to keep them in check, may boil over on occasion. I don’t have a problem with that. You could even argue that thee is a place for legal charges short of death, but this bounty system doesn’t qualify–I might disagree, but I could at least see the argument being made and could respect the opinion.

    But it isn’t the argument you guys are making. You essentially say that there is no place whatsoever for criminal charges in any form or fashion to be pressed by any party, no matter the harm that is done and no matter the laws that are broken, unless someone actually dies. And that statement just won’t fly (your broken leg not withstanding).

    Thanks, again.

    Mr. Philosophy

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