Is the ‘Bountygate’ scandal really that scandalous?

To many, football is a gruesome sport and to a person who doesn’t understand the game, it’s just a bunch of guys flying around hitting each other with malicious intent. But for those who understand it, it means much more than that.

As you may have heard, the New Orleans Saints are currently under investigation for allegedly violating the NFL bounty system. This is a system where players are paid money for maliciously injuring other players with the intention of reaping outside rewards.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the so called initiator of this system, admitted to a pool of $50,000 over the past 3 seasons, and now the league is curious to find out if Williams ran a similar system as head or assistant coach with the Jaguars, Bills, Titans and Redskins. According to sources, more than 25 current and former Saints players may be involved. Players were allegedly paid as much as $1,500 for knocking targeted players out of a game.

Since these allegations have sparked, the ethics and safety of the league have been brought into question, but I think the situation is being blown out of proportion. What this ultimately boils down to is the NFL having an opportunity to crack down on something that most likely exists in some way in every organization in the league.

I don’t support the actions of a bounty system in the league because I understand the dangers it poses. At the same time, I don’t think the situation is all that bad. It’s not like New Orleans was going out of their way just to create the opportunity to hit players. Every punishing hit I’ve seen was legal, whether it was meant to hurt someone or not. This means that even if the Saints were participating in a bounty system, they still respected the rules and ethics of the game by waiting for the opportunity to make a play other than accumulating personal fouls and noticeably dirty play.

Personally, I think the league is confused. The NFL draws viewers in with its violence. The same hits that players are punished or fined for are the same ones that make NFL highlight films and are glorified to the audience. If you’re going to criticize these players for playing hard and physical, don’t use these hits to make highlights and attract viewers.

I don’t see much difference between the bounty deal and the contract bonuses that players are awarded.  In postseason play, players are awarded bonuses for sacks or interceptions. That’s basically a bounty in ink. The player is still going to play with the same physicality.

If the investigation ends with the Saints found guilty, I’m certain that they’re not the only team involved, but simply the first to get caught.

This is clearly an issue, but simply blown out of proportion by analysts. With New Orleans being known as such a quality organization, their association with the bounty system will be blown away much like the Patriots and Spygate.