I wonder if people would have an easier time with this if it were a simple PFP system instead of what the league is alleging as a 'bounty' program which infers the explicit injury of an opposing player? The broad stroke of 'bounty' has been painted on the Saints' last three seasons, the team has been portrayed as the evil, blood-lust warriors and the fans as coliseum denizens just happy to watch the lions do their work and a certain mindset has been withdrawn from the public eye: Mercenaries. I read all of the rhetoric from the media that condemns the organization for allowing this to happen. I read all of the rhetoric from opposing fan bases, the opinions of current and retired players, themselves, and I read all the rhetoric from Saints fans that support the decision from the NFL to end this and those that oppose the decisions because they want proof. Proof of what? It's a dizzying statement from the beginning and has only gotten worse.
The NFL alleges players were paid to hurt others. Players acknowledge a pay-for-performance plan and that money is offered. The coaches and the GM acknowledging a payment plan that circumvented the salary cap system and that they lied about it. Players of the past come forth and agree that systems were in place years ago that brought them 'free' money to perform acts that they were already getting paid to accomplish. This, as we know with the CBA, is against the rules and deserves a certain punishment. However, players and fans of the NFL have yet to see/hear evidence of a plan that pays players to maim or harm others OUTSIDE of the rules in place. A hard hit to Kurt Warner in the Divisional playoff game in 2009 is what's considered evidence? A clean hit that drew no flag? I agree that the hit to Favre which resulted in an ankle injury from the high/low hit should have drawn a flag and is grounds for fines and punishment. However, to the best of my recollection, of the three playoff games during that historic run, that's the only one that is suspect. If you wish to call the hit on Favre after he handed off and hid the ball in an effort to fool a defensive player into believing he still had that ball (a play that, under the mindset of a defensive player, warrants a hit to ensure the ball is not taken farther down field) another example, I could live with throwing that in the pool of evidence. Two out of hundreds.
Again, I wonder if the public would have an easier time accepting and embracing the 'Pay-for-Performance' (PFP) evil, which is against the CBA rules concerning contractual money/bonuses and subject to discipline, as well as being far more palatable, as opposed to the picture being painted by the media and league as a 'Pay-to-Injure' program? Mr. Vilma, if operating under the auspices of a PFP should rightly seek the evidence if only to clear his name in the court of public opinion as well as with the members of the player's union. If he is released by the Saints and seeks further employment, his future teammates need to know he's not a dirty player to be able to gain their trust. I'm sure we all understand that changes are coming for the NFL in general with regard to player safety and concussion recognition mandating time away from the game. That's probably the best thing to come around the pike since the introduction of face masks many years ago. But, hits within the confines of the rules, are still legal and have been for many years. Since the recent reports have shown (I'm WAY too lazy to look that stuff up but I'm almost certain it has been reported on this site) that the Saints have been a middling recipient of personal fouls over the years (Roman Harper: I'm looking at you! Although, I relish the hit on Smith in the end zone...GUILTY PLEASURE! Don't judge me!), it doesn't feel that an actual BOUNTY program was in place and, to date, there has been no evidence of intent to injure other players on the field which leads back to the original question:
Would people have an easier time with this (thus negating the animosity toward the entire organization and fan base which is causing so much malevolence back and forth) if the facts came out that there was a pot of money for players to provide motivation to teammates to perform above certain expectations? Would it be similar enough to identify with in terms of the Christmas bonus for meeting sales quotas which would equate to an interception or three? Or, if these were the actual facts that are proven by the league's evidence, would we, as fans, recognize it for the proof it is and just walk away with our heads hung low, cursing PAYLOO and GDub, all the while praising the Lombardi on display?
I just have a hard time with the commissioner and some/most of the media folks painting this organization with a broad stroke, sans evidence, that something evil was taking place. A Pay-for-Performance pool? Got it. Good with that one. Pay-To-Injure (read: Bounty)? I have a problem with that label until you show me proof. If you have it, it will help with you lawsuits. If you don't? Find another doormat to wipe your pristine shoes upon.
Fans, sorry to rant, but you poor, unsuspecting readers of CSC are the unlucky recipients of a man recently retired, not working, stopped smoking less than a week ago (after 30+ years) and can't drink. Think you have it bad? Pity my wife!