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Saints’ ‘bounty’ crossed the line

March 11, 2012
By Craig Remsburg - Senior Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

Football - especially pro football - is a violent, brutal sport. Always has been, always will be.

In the NFL, huge, muscular men hit other huge, muscular men as hard as they can nearly every single play. It's a battle of physical will.

Hit the players on the other team harder than they hit you and you'll more than likely win.

NFL officials have unofficially sanctioned this type of play since the league's existence, believing it's all part of the game.

I remember a famous picture of New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle kneeling on the ground with his helmet off and blood dripping down his face after being sacked in a 27-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There was no major reaction to the photo. Remember, it was the way the game was played then and to this day.

But the last couple of years, the NFL has made a major move toward "changing the culture with respect to player safety," as Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

When it was discovered that from 2009-11, between 22 and 27 New Orleans Saints defensive players took part in a "bounty" program on foes, the NFL took notice.

Through its own investigation, it was found then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams oversaw a system whereby players were paid for hard hits and deliberately trying to injure opponents.

We're still waiting for Goodell's response in the way of penalties for the Saints' bounty system.

Most NFL teams probably have some sort of in-house awards system for hard hits. I wouldn't be surprised if another team or two - maybe more - are eventually fingered for similar transgressions.

The Lions' Ndamukong Suh and the Steelers' James Harrison and any other current NFL players who have been suspended lately for rough play are no doubt looking at this case intently.

It's going to be interesting to see how hard Goodell comes down on those who took part in the Saints bounty program, including head coach Sean Payton, who knew about the system but didn't do anything to stop it.

Fines, suspensions, even the loss of a draft pick or two should be on the table if the NFL is serious about stopping this sort of thing.

The league is always looking out for its image. This bounty gave it a black eye.

Let's see how Goodell reacts to what one of the top teams in the league did in direct violation of the image the NFL is trying to project.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is



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