Roger Goodell Lays Down the Axe

Yesterday Roger Goodell handed out player suspensions for their involvement in the “Bountygate” scandal. Goodell previously suspended the coaching staff and management of the New Orleans Saints for their institution of a bounty program on their football team. After further investigation Goodell had to bring the hammer down on the players involved. The punishment that followed would hopefully guarantee that this would never happen again in the National Football League. Here’s how player punishment went:

Jonathan Vilma suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season.

Anthony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, out for the first 8 games of the 2012 season.

Will Smith, who missed the first 2 games last year due to injury, suspended for 4 games.

Scott Fujita, currently on the Cleveland Browns, out for 3 games.

Many suspected that suspensions would be given out. I don’t think anybody thought they would be this harsh. Some may have even thought there would be more players suspended. The report stated that their were up to 27 players involved in the bounty program. Looks like 23 of them got off the hook.

Today Jonathan Vilma sounded like he would appeal the suspension, but I’m not sure that will do him any good. The thing that irks me the most about Vilma’s situation is that he found out about his suspension the same way I found out he was suspended; by watching T.V. I even said to my friend yesterday, I wonder how they found out about their suspensions. Hope they got a phone call. Roger Goodell could have at least had the decency to give them a proper phone call. Roger, come on man you’re better than that.

Yesterday Stephen A. Smith of ESPN New York said that he didn’t like that Goodell suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma for an entire year. The same penalty that his coach had been previously given for his involvement with the scandal. His point was that Sean Peyton had many more years of coaching left in him and that Jonathan Vilma had only a few years left to play. Football players have a much shorter shelf life than their brain trusts. To that extent I agree, but then again these were players that were trying to shorten the shelf life of other players. Nothing good was to come out of this. The message sent by Goodell should be clear though. This shall never happen again or else.

Goodell did what he had to do to protect his players. The NFL is in the middle of former players wanting to file lawsuits against the NFL because of what concussions, head trauma, and other injuries have done to them physically and mentally. Dave Duerson committed suicide last year in February. One month ago a former Atlanta Falcons star of the 70s, Ray Easterling, committed suicide. Former San Diego Chargers linebacker and USC great, Junior Seau committed suicide yesterday in his home in San Diego.

Goodell needs to protect his players in every which way. Football is a rough and physical sport no doubt, but Goodell has taken steps to reduce the physical damages that players endure. Give Goodell credit. As a fan, at first, I did not like the rule changes. Quarterbacks already have reputations as being prima donnas in a sense and the new rules protecting them made it seem all the more true. Penalizing defensive players for making a hit on an opposing player seemed absurd to me. This is why offensive numbers have skyrocketed and I didn’t like it. As a human being, I think that these changes are for the betterment of the game and for player safety. If you love the game of football you have to love the changes to protect the players, the people we enjoy watching on Sundays, the people whose jerseys we buy and wear proudly. On the field we think they are invincible. Off the field they are no different than you or I.

Hearing about all these things about football players years after they play the game will also discourage younger kids from wanting to play the game of football. Most professional athletes are talented in multiple sports. They usually have their choice of baseball, basketball, or football. Who would want to play a sport in which by the time your 40 you will have a great chance of suffering severe depression, head trauma, or other injuries. Most wold wind up picking a much safer sport. The way the league was heading with all the concussions and lawsuits being filed, the NFL has a real chance of being shut down. No NFL fan would want to see that I can assure you. These changes are what is needed to prolong to life of the NFL as well as ensure the health of their current, former, and future players. Roger Goodell is doing what is best for the NFL. You will soon realize it.