FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There has been much discussion about the New Orleans Saints placing bounties on the heads of players –– and rightfully so.
This is, quite simply, the NFL’s worst nightmare. Comparisons have been made to “Spygate,” and while that was far more damaging to the integrity of the game, when fines and/or suspensions are handed out the New England Patriots’ penalties for filming competitors will pale in comparison.
We will have a new clubhouse leader for the most severe penalties ever handed out by the NFL and it will be Gregg Williams –– now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams –– and the New Orleans Saints.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly made player safety his No. 1 priority since he took over for Paul Tagliabue.
He will hit Gregg Williams and Sean Payton as hard as the Saints were hitting other players for “knock outs” and “cart offs.”
Most importantly –– although it will certainly not be said in a public forum –– is that there is a slew of litigation against the NFL for head trauma, with many more cases lined up right behind.
The potential for settling these cases could be billions of dollars. At one point, the NFL foolishly said there was no connection between head injuries and the early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia that have plagued former players, including suicides.
That stance has changed.
So if Goodell looks the least bit lenient in this situation, don’t think that information will not be brought into these impending court cases.
Furthermore, the NFL needs to send a clear and distinct message to the moms and dads who send their kids out to play youth and high school football that the players their sons idolize –– and more importantly –– emulate, are playing by the rules of sportsmanship.
An antiquated notion, I know, but don’t think for a minute the PR machine that is the National Football League will not factor this into the penalty equation.
Does this go on in other locker rooms? Sure. But those are players.
When the defensive coordinator is involved with the tacit approval of the head coach and general manager, there should be, and will be, a heavy price to pay.