Roger Goodell has gone mad with power. He will stop at nothing to prove to the public he's dedicated to player safety in the NFL. Whether player or coach, no one is safe from Sheriff Goodell, who's running roughshod over the league with his own version of justice with impunity.
That's what happens when you're given too much power in the NFL. Coaches are suspended, salaries are cut, and games are being played on Wednesday. Can Goodell even do that? The NFL's most powerful man can do whatever he wants...
The case involving "bounties" in New Orleans took a very unpleasant turn this week when Goodell unprecedentedly suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season without pay, which is roughly $6 million. Goodell claimed the league's investigators were "clearly lied to" by Payton and his staff about knowledge of a bounty program being ran by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, in which knocking a player out of the game would pay $1,500 and forcing a player to leave on a cart was worth $1,000.
Williams is suspended indefinitely from the Rams, where he signed this offseason to be Jeff Fisher's new defensive coordinator. Now the Rams and Saints are each out a top coach, and both lost their yearly salary. All so Goodell can uphold the appearance of doing "everything he can" for "safety" in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Goodell talks out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to safety for the players. Suspending Payton wasn't about making the game safer. Goodell had to make an example of someone again, to harden his stance on player safety being a priority.
Goodell is going to extremes (like ripping $6 mill from Payton and essentially kicking him out for a year) in order to cover his back on the health risks each and every player faces.
With all the new studies of concussions and debilitating health for former NFL players, it's only a matter of time before there's hard facts that show just how detrimental years in the NFL can be to a player in their life after football.
Goodell can say the league did everything they could to prevent concussions and protect the players but this is the same guy who wants to add another two games to the regular season.
The league may fine players, even dish out one game suspensions, for hits deemed "unsafe" but it's the same league that has used in-game violence as a marketing ploy for decades.
Punishment was deserved for the Saints, who's biggest mistake turned out to be admitting (and apologizing for) the bounty program. Half the season would have been plenty for Payton. But Goodell feels played and foolish because Payton lied about knowledge of the bounties.
The Saints executives and coaches tried to own it but that's what buried them, and ultimately proved to be the evidence the league needed to levy such harsh punishment, which also included suspending GM Mickey Loomis (eight games), an assistant head coach Joe Vitt (six games), and taking away two second-round draft picks. Goodell went overboard with this punishment.
I realize the league had warned Williams before about participating in such pay-for-hits schemes in Washington and Buffalo, but could it be the fact the Saints "bounty" program resulted in such success (Super Bowl win) that the league had to come down even harder?
I don't condone intentionally trying to injure a player. However, professional football is about winning games, and every player out there knows the risks of playing football at that level. Being knocked out of the game is a chance taken every snap.
If teams are going to reward players for hits that take out an opponent, the lesson is to keep it hushed better than the Saints did. To think the Saints were the only ones doing such a thing, or that it will be ridden from the game, is naive. Sometimes a "bounty" mentality is what it takes. It got the Saints a Super Bowl. But now, courtesy of Goodell and his feeling of absolute power, it also cost Sean Payton the season and six million bucks.