When it was revealed that the defenses under Gregg Williams participated in bounty incentives -- monetarily giving players incentive to take opposing players out of the game, or injure them -- most probably did not find it too surprising. After all, football has a culture of violence and glorifies it. We watch highlights of big hits and it gets us fired up.
Player safety is also now at the forefront with the research that is now being revealed about concussions and head injuries. The two ideals clash and it is evident even among the players themselves.
Players, current and former, are reacting in different ways. Some wonder what the big deal is. Others are concerned about the scandal. Even Arizona Cardinals OL Daryn Colledge believes that it is an issue. He said via his Twitter account, "I agree this kind of play undermines us as players and fans. Sadly there's a culture of certain players that don't care."
The issue is that there is a fine line between what is okay and great in football, and what crosses the line. Defensive players want to make it so opposing offenses shy away and do less. They want them to be afraid of getting hit. But as men and colleagues, they really should not want to injure a player. That is their livelihood and how they feed their family. To take that away from a fellow player is wrong.
The problem is that big hits get aired and glorified. Big hitters get paid. They cause turnovers and turnovers win football games.
There is a fine line. It is hard to know where it is. As a player, you want the opponent to feel pain. You do not want to take them out. That is where the problem is.
In fact, some could consider it hypocritical. Over at Revenge of the BIrds, Tyler Nickel shows how this scandal flys in the face of all the players have been saying about safety.
Why 'Bountygate' Makes The Players Out To Be A Bunch Of Hypocrites - Revenge of the Birds
Wait a second... Aren't the players all about safety? I mean, isn't this what we always hear about when they speak to the media and isn't it what they wanted out of the CBA negotiations? As the New York Post's Bart Hubbuch would put it, "I now realize these guys truly don't give a flip about their health."
Players from all around the league -- retired and active -- signed on to Twitter to voice their opinions on the subject. More than a few of them ended up saying things like, 'What's the big deal?' or, 'this kind of thing happens all the time.'
So if it isn't a problem, why is it that safety was the sticking point for your negotiations during the lockout? Is there just so much ignorance through the ranks of the players that they don't realize the implications of having a "hurt for hire" business? Does short term fame and fortune supersede the idea of long-term health?
It seems that everything the players worked towards during the CBA process was simply a public relations move. They knew they were dead in the water from the beginning. The owners had the upper hand and the players were forced to give them what they wanted. So to shed the appearance that they were weak or that they had lost, they decided to take the safety route.
And just wait. 20 years down the road, we will be seeing these exact same players suing the NFL for putting them in a situation that caused them insufferable pain in the form of degenerative disease. I mean, obviously the league put them in these situations, right?