Goodell's Bounty Scandal

By Zirin, Dave | The Progressive, May 2012 | Go to article overview

Goodell's Bounty Scandal


Zirin, Dave, The Progressive


Whenever an issue arises about violence in sports, always approach the attendant media hysteria with supreme caution. It's their opportunity to speak about "the children," role models, and decency in a way that makes you wonder if they had ever actually spoken to a child in their lives or were aware that the true engines of violence in our world have nothing to do with sports.

I felt this acutely when The New York Times published an op-ed by an attorney, Eldon Ham, calling for criminal prosecution of the players on the New Orleans Saints. According to an in-depth report issued by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, anywhere from twenty-two to twenty-seven players on the Saints took part in a "bounty" system where players would receive money for "knockout" or "cart off" hits that caused opponents to have to leave the game.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To be clear, this is an awful practice, and the NFL Players Association should take any and all steps to make sure that this most violent of games doesn't expose players to unnecessary risk. But to have The New York Times--a paper that trafficked in doctored intelligence to facilitate the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and offers prime space to the cheerleaders for a new war in Iran--give space to a lawyer calling for prosecution and jail time for NFL players is just too rich for words.

The New York Times would do better to flex its journalistic muscles and ask the question: Why? Why is the NFL raising so much heightened awareness about this "bounty" system, when it's a practice as time-honored as wearing cleats? Why is Goodell taking this stand right here and right now?

This is about a league that currently grosses $9 billion in revenue and has projections that show it could explode over the next fifteen years into a $25 billion enterprise. The ratings have never been higher. The demand has never been greater. There is really only one thing that could derail this Randian locomotive of a gravy train: violence and the shadow it casts over the league.

In the past, when concussions were just "getting your bell rung" and painkillers were handed out at halftime like breath mints, a generation of players suffered. …

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