There has been a lot of heated debate over the whole Bountygate scandal. A lot of support for those who did, a lot of support for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for doing something about it and a lot of support for both sides from those believing the acts must be punished but that the NFL Commissioner has reacted too harshly.
Believe me – you ain’t seen nothing yet.
At this time we are yet to hear what punishments may be metted out to players. The New Orleans Saints are getting ready as best they can – they’ve already gone out and picked up the two top linebackers of this free agency class – Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne – in an effort to offset the expected loss of their key defensive playmaker Jonathan Vilma.
Upon reviewing the evidence, the NFLPA believes things are more dire for players than anyone imagined. They are advising players to retain counsel. Is this an overreaction or could it be that criminal proceedings could be brought against the guilty parties?
The short answer – yes.
Let us be quite clear about one thing – the game of football is a violent sport as has been pointed out by my colleague Josh Sanchez. Each player who signs up to play expects to get hit hard and to get hurt. This is the most fundamental truth of football – it hurts.
What football players do not sign up for is to be intentionally injured. I’ve covered this in previous articles and so the argument doesn’t need to be made again. The one thing that I failed to comprehend when this story came out is that same elemental truth – that football is a violent sport and people get hurt. Yes I’m repeating myself but there is a very good reason for this – could it be that those who are attacking the bounty targets are in fact committing assault?
I hear you all saying that this is going too far. Is it? Let me ask you a question – if the NFL allows for people to hit each other within the confines of the rules, if someone deliberately circumventing the rules with the intent to hurt someone could they be technically breaking the law and committing assault?
I don’t know the answer to this. That’s for the lawyers, litigators and lawmakers to determine. Speaking of lawmakers – it is this possibility that congress will use to justify an inquiry. What I will say is that this is a possibility.
The legal battles are still ahead. Be prepared for the worst – this thing could get much worse before it gets better.