Friday, March 9, 2012

5 comments Gregg Easterbrook Not One to Miss a Chance to be Haughty Chimes in on the Saints Bounty Scandal

I have started a Fantasy Baseball league and Fantasy NCAA Tournament Bracket in Yahoo if anyone cares to join. The league ID is 76959 and password is "eckstein" for the Fantasy Baseball league and the league ID is 5876 and password is "eckstein" for the NCAA Tourney bracket. We have about three spots left in the Fantasy Baseball league and feel free to give feedback on the set up of the league if you would like.

Most people who are on Facebook probably have that friend who constantly posts shit they do and bless us with pictures to go along with the description. These people tend to post everything they do. This person manages to do this is in the most pretentious way possible. You would de-Friend them, but you like seeing how pretentious they can be so you can discuss it with mutual friends (okay, maybe that's just me).

My person tends to post a picture of him/her judging a contest with a D-level local celebrity or if anything he/she writes gets published in a newspaper the picture of the article is posted. Usually the caption is something like, "Had a lot of fun judging the pie eating contest. Bob Weatherman is much nicer in person!" It's clear he/she is very proud of the accomplishments in his/her life. Nothing wrong with that, but it takes a certain talent to do this in the most frustratingly pretentious annoying way possible. Few people have that skill to discuss a daily topic and make you want to punch them in the face. Gregg Easterbrook has that skill as well. Though I would refrain from any physical aggression towards him, his article on the Saints bounty deserves a good ass-whupping.

This column almost gets me to the point I would defend the Saints actions. It's just so lofty, hyperbolic and (head explodes).

Sinnersgate --

And he's given it a damn name now.

the Saints are no saints --

Ba-da-boom! I get it! The Saints aren't Saints. They aren't because they are sinners! And sinners can't be Saints...even if they do use motion on fourth-and-one because that's the best and only way to get a first down.

is worse than Spygate.

No, it is not, because these two events are not comparable. Spygate involved the videotaping another team and the Saints bounty program involved paying players to hurt members of the opposing team. If the videographer for Spygate received $1000 for injuring an opposing player and he taped it...then they they would be more comparable.

Spygate was cheating, but caused no one harm.

Says the columnist who has brought it up nearly once a month for the past five years.

Sinnersgate is about being paid to cause injury, which takes a beautiful sport and makes it a low, filthy thing.

Exactly. The bounty program took players who were well-paid to knock the shit out of the opposing player and paid them a smaller stipend in addition to their normal paycheck to knock the shit out of the opposing player in a more brutal way in order to cause injury.

But don't NFL players know they are assuming risk? Of course. So let me tell you the worst part of this latest scandal to afflict football:

You coming back from wherever the hell you go in the winter/spring to write a column about this story and act like the Saints were paid to murder players on the opposing team and then eat their internal organs in front of their friends and family?

(Sorry, I probably shouldn't be allowed to watch any more Walking Dead for a few months)

"I want someone hurt!" the high school coach was screaming. "I want some kid's mother crying in the stands because her son was carted off the field! Unless someone from that team is taken off injured in the second half, you will do punishment drills at 6 a.m. tomorrow!"

It was a few years ago, and I was standing in a high school football locker room in Montgomery County, Md., where I live. A favored school trailed a perennial loser at halftime, and the coach of the favored team was screaming -- I've deleted the many obscenities -- that he wanted his boys to intimidate the other team by injuring players.

How it affects the kids. That's the real tragedy. Now Pee-Wee football players will grow up dreaming of playing in the NFL in order to make $1000 injuring an opposing player by knocking the shit out of him, instead of growing up dreaming of playing in the NFL in order to make millions of dollars knocking the shit out of opposing players.

The coach got his wish -- two opposition players were helped off in the second half, and his team rallied to victory.

Obviously this type of behavior is unacceptable from a coach, no matter what level. No children should be taught to intentionally injure another competitor during a competition. Having said that, football is an incredibly violent sport and it still involves rough play and the possibility of severe injury. So it isn't like we are taking a docile sport and dirtying it up with bounties. Bounties are simply a way of a team incentivizing even more violent play with the specific goal of injuring another player in mind. It is not right, but it also isn't a hell of a lot different from the normal goal in football.

The league is setting a terrible example for the overwhelming majority of football players who, unlike NFL players, never receive a dime from the sport.

This is why Roger Goodell is probably going to come down hard on these players and coaches who participated in this bounty program. Gregg will be criticizing the NFL a lot for the Saints actions. In some way, the NFL is guilty, but they do deserve some credit for investigating the Saints' bounties and punishing the offenders.

But high school players are exposed to injuries that at minimum cause pain, expense and lost school time, and at worst may bring lifelong physical or mental debilitation

This is not going to change regardless of whether teams run a bounty program or not. Football is, and always will be, a violent sport.

If the example being set by the NFL is one of a Super Bowl team acting gleeful over injured opponents, the worst harm isn't done to the pros.

In his own special way, Gregg Easterbrook misses the major issue involving these bounties. It isn't the defensive player's reaction that is the issue. Anytime an NFL player gets injured on the field teams usually don't start celebrating that player's injury publicly. So "the kids" aren't going to see Jonathan Vilma dancing over an injured quarterback once Vilma knows the quarterback is injured. The issue are the bounties, which "the kids" usually know nothing about until they hear about it in a news story. Being gleeful over a fallen opponent isn't the issue, it is the act of paying a player to intentionally injure another player.

Each year, all NFL clubs receive a memo reminding them, "No bonus or award may directly or indirectly be offered, promised, announced or paid to a player for his or his team's performance against a particular team or opposing player or a particular group thereof. No bonuses or awards may be offered or paid for on field misconduct, for example, personal fouls to or injuries inflicted on opposing players."

That the Saints, and perhaps the Bills and Redskins, violated this clearly stated rule is bad enough.

What's worse is the effect it has on the kids? WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

The deeply troubling offense of Sinnersgate is that the pros, who are looked up to by the young, are setting a terrible example for the high school players and coaches who emulate what they see on Sundays in the NFL.

High school coaches are grown-ass men. They should be able to coach their team how they see fit without emulating their favorite NFL team's head coach. You can't blame the NFL for the actions of a grown-ass man who coaches high school players, just like the one Gregg described earlier in this column, who want their players to intentionally injure the opponent. These adult high school football coaches can't blame the NFL and should take responsibility (yes, responsibility, what a concept!) for their actions.

This is much worse than Spygate, bringing a new low to the National Football League.

Different. This is much different from Spygate.

With football being hammered by scandal after scandal, where is the person of honor who will take a stand to return integrity to the sport?

Oh dear God. I want to just answer this with "Tim Tebow" and move on.....................but you know I am not capable of doing that.

Where is the person who will take a stand and BRING integrity to the sport of football. This is a sport where four players I can name off the top of my head playing in the NFL have been paralyzed on the field, drug abuse is rampant (which drug you one, it's probably rampant or was rampant at one point...except for crack of course. Everyone knows rich people would NEVER do crack.), and it took fifty years for the league to realize "Oh yeah, our sport involves players violently tackling an opposing player to the ground often leading with their helmet. I wonder if that could potentially cause any long-term injury to a person."

The NFL is a great sport to watch and enjoy, but integrity can't leave the sport until it has arrived.

Here are points to consider:

1. I can be an idiot.

2. I am pretentious.

3. Here is an overly long explanation of why a science fiction show isn't realistic.

There will always be injuries in football. But the intent of a football player never should be to injure; the intent should be to hit hard, legally. American law places considerable emphasis on intent

Which is exactly why the NFL is so concerned about this bounty program and seems prepared to punish those who participated severely.

Hard-hitting football games need not involve harm.

Football shouldn't involve harm, other than the proven effects playing the sport has on a person's brain over a long period of time which could lead to depression and severe physical debilitation at an early point in a person's life. Other than that, football shouldn't involve harm at all...just as long you avoid playing the sport.

Michael Vick went to prison for nearly two years for harming dogs, which he should not have done.

(Checks the byline of this article. It is not dated August 2007. Bengoodfella is confused.)

Williams offered players money to harm people. And there was no misunderstanding: Williams told the league Friday, "We knew we were wrong while we were doing it.'' The situations are not directly analogous.

"This situation has nothing to do with the bounty program, but fuck it, I have to fill 2500 words so I'll just keep motoring along towards a terrible analogy."

But if prison was the fair punishment for causing harm to animals, the punishment Williams faces must be severe.

The only punishment severe enough for Gregg Williams would be for him to be forced to spend an entire year living with Gregg Easterbrook. During this year Gregg Williams would be unable to speak with any other human other than Gregg Easterbrook. That'll learn him a lesson he will never forget.

Torturing and killing dogs who lack free will and therefore could not prevent this torture from occurring is now analogous to running an NFL team running a bounty program with a group of players who willingly participated in trying to injure opposing players who willingly play a violent game. It's pretty much the same thing, outside of the whole "not having free will to make decisions for yourself" issue.

Often, athletes are severely sanctioned for minor failings, while coaches and front-office personnel receive a slap on the wrist.

No penalties have been handed out yet. Perhaps wait until the punishments are handed down before you start bitching about the inequity of it all.

Williams, along with Sean Payton and New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis, who the NFL says did nothing to prevent the bounty system, thumbed their noses at NFL integrity. Why should they be allowed the privilege of remaining in the league?

Probably because the players are at-fault as well. They didn't have to participate in the bounty program. So I agree Payton, Loomis and Williams should be punished, but this doesn't mean Goodell should go lighter on the players.

On the game's first snap, Favre handed off, turned away from the play and was hammered with a forearm to the chin by New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita. Not only should a personal foul have been called -- Fujita should have been ejected on the game's first offensive snap. Instead, no call. Scott, were you paid for behaving like a street thug?

Perhaps because he inherently likes contact, much like other NFL players. Or maybe it is because he is a lowly drafted, unwanted player (he was traded at one point in his career...he's unwanted!), which is the exact type of player Gregg absolutely loves.

Beginning midway through the first quarter, whenever Favre handed off, he immediately ran backward 10 yards -- to get away from New Orleans late hits.

Oh yes, I forgot about Gregg's ability to read minds and decipher exactly what a player's intent may be on a certain play.

Football players are elaborately conditioned to please coaches. They also know that if they want to get on the field, they must do what the coach instructs.

While this is true, I'm not so sure this is as true at the NFL level. I have a hard time believing Roman Harper, Darren Sharper or Jonathan Vilma were concerned they would be benched for not participating in the bounty program. In the NFL, talent trumps a lot of things. Those three players have/had talent.

If you wish to review the Saints-Vikings championship game for yourself, good luck finding it on NFL Network. By coincidence, the league's TV outlet long had been scheduled to re-air the game on Monday afternoon. Viewers who tuned in and pressed the "info" key on their cable controls saw the game identified as Minnesota at New Orleans for the NFL title. But on the screen, a 20-year-old Cowboys game was airing.

Yet NFL Network pulled a hot product off the air, substituting a stone-cold product. Knuckleheaded business judgments do happen. But unless the people running NFL Network are knuckleheads, there may have been an agenda here. Perhaps the league did not want viewers to see for themselves how many vicious late hits went uncalled in the game that put the Saints into the Super Bowl.

What hypocrisy on the part of Gregg. Gregg pretends to be concerned football players of all ages will see the actions of the Saints and think it is fine to intentionally injure an opposing player. This appears to be Gregg's #1 concern in relation to the Saints bounty scandal, that younger football players will emulate the Saints. Yet Gregg also criticizes the NFL Network for not showing the Vikings-Saints game that was scheduled to air. If Gregg is so concerned about "the kids" wouldn't he want NFL Network to not air the Vikings-Saints game in an effort to make sure the actions of the Saints' defenders can't be emulated?

In reality, just like usual, Gregg wants it both ways. He wants to criticize the NFL for having a negative effect on kids, while also criticizing the NFL for not airing the Vikings-Saints game. It can't worth both ways. If Gregg is really concerned about the effect the Saints bounty program had on kids then he would celebrate the game not being show on NFL Network.

Gregg Williams has a classy first name, but may be a man of twisted values.

I'm not sure why, but this sentence makes me want to punch a puppy.

Not just Williams, but all Saints players and coaches knew rules were being broken. NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello told me, "The prohibition of noncontract bonuses has been a formal part of the collective bargaining agreement since 1993...It would not be plausible for anyone in our league to say, 'I didn't know about that rule.'"


Other NFL defenses besides those run by Williams may have offered cash bounties or related rewards for vicious hits. But when is "other people are doing it" an excuse?

I don't understand this at all. The Saints are the only team that got caught offering cash bounties. No team or player has ever said "other people are doing it" as an excuse. So "other people are doing it" is not an excuse and doesn't really pertain to this certain situation.

If other NFL teams rewarded vicious hits, this is totally, utterly irrelevant to the Saints' sins. Williams, and perhaps Payton and Loomis, knew they were breaking a clearly stated rule.

The fact other NFL teams rewarded vicious hits is also utterly irrelevant to the discussion about the Saints bounties being offered since neither Williams or any other member of the Saints organization has indicated other teams (outside of other teams Williams coached) were rewarding vicious hits.

(By the way, I accidentally wrote "vicious shits" three times as I was writing this last sentence. I'm not sure what that means, but it definitely sounds more painful than a vicious hit.)

The Saints' Super Bowl win is now tainted. The Saints' feel-good story is over.

I don't like the Saints and think Sean Payton is an asshole. There was never a feel-good story for me.

The larger question is whether Sinnersgate shows there is rot throughout the structure of America's most lucrative sport.

This is the same type of question that eventually gets posed anytime there is a sniff of controversy or scandal in the NFL. The NFL is what it is and any attempts to sanitize the NFL's past in order to make it seem like the Saints' bounty program is a crippling blow to the sport willfully ignores the NFL has never been nor will it ever be perfect.

That's the way they teach Pop Warner kids. Certainly Aikman is correct -- and that is why football must be reformed, from youth leagues up to the NFL, to eliminate the encouragement of vicious play.

"No, no, Billy tackle the opposing team's ball carrier and make sure he is on the ground. Just don't do it as hard as you would normally do. When making full-body physical contact in order to bring another human being to the ground while both of you are in motion at a high speed you should be as careful as possible not to be overly physical."

Football will never be a non-vicious sport. The sooner Gregg accepts this the sooner he can retire and annoy someone else with his inaccurate football musings and unwanted/undrafted player bullshit.

Spygate threatened the reputation of a coach. Sinnersgate threatens the entire sport.

Now THAT's a dramatic way to end an article. Gregg Easterbrook's writing threatens the sanity of civilization.


rich said...

Sinnersgate is about being paid to cause injury, which takes a beautiful sport and makes it a low, filthy thing.

Here's the thing that makes in clear Gregg never actually played football.

Most defensive players already try to hurt the other players. Whether intentionally or not, defensive players try to hit the offensive players as hard as possible - which tends to leave people injured, regardless of intent.

Logically, bounties can't be that big a deal because offenses could easily take advantage of a defense twitching with anticipation to injure a particular player.

James Harrison even admitted that he plays to hurt people, I guess that's why Dick LaBeau is a HOF coach - inspires his players to hurt the opposition for free.

The league is setting a terrible example for the overwhelming majority of football players who, unlike NFL players, never receive a dime from the sport.

Right, the league is setting a terrible example through this, but the constant legal issues the players have ::cough:: Sam Hurd ::cough::? Pfft.

Michael Vick went to prison for nearly two years for harming dogs, which he should not have done.

But if prison was the fair punishment for causing harm to animals, the punishment Williams faces must be severe.

These sentences made me laugh uncontrollably for multiple reasons:

1. Vick didn't go to jail for "harming" dogs, he fucking killed them.

2. Vick didn't go to jail for killing dogs, he went to jail for running an illegal gambling operation.

3. "which he should not have done" is the most unnecessary ends to a sentence I've ever seen. He shouldn't have hurt the dogs? Shit. ::puts taser away::

4. Vick took animals that could not consent to competition and got them killed or seriously hurt. NFL players are all consenting individuals playing a game that often leads to horrific injuries.

And if you're main argument is "what does this teach kids?" Then you have to see how committing a felony is far worse than playing the sport slightly more viciously than normal.

forearm to the chin by New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita.

A Viking player cleated a Packer in the crotch, no bounty involved.

Suh nearly killed Cutler, McCoy and Delhomme, no bounty involved.

Nasty, violent hits happen in the NFL regardless of "bounties."

I'm not sure why, but this sentence makes me want to punch a puppy.

Don't do it Ben! Gregg showed that we shouldn't do this kind of stuff!

The Saints' Super Bowl win is now tainted.

So by this logic, all of the Steelers championships are tainted due to steroids or James Harrison.

football must be reformed... to eliminate the encouragement of vicious play.

If you taught kids to wrap up and not launch themselves at the opposing player, you'd see injuries go down too and I think that's something the NFL can actually encourage.

Justin Zeth said...

I wonder if Gregg called out the coach and reported him to the authorities at the time for demanding that his players injure someone from the other team.

(Hint: Ponder the question of why would Gregg be in a high school football team's locker room at halftime.)

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that is part of the issue with Gregg's statements. It is hard for a player to tackle another player really hard, but not too hard. Sure, don't try to injure the guy, but there is a line where a defensive player isn't going to pull up in an effort to not hit a player too hard b/c he won't make the tackle.

I see no reason how the Vick situation and this situation are entirely comparable. There are so many differences. Vick committed a crime and it appears Williams/the Saints did not. That's the first difference.

Nasty, violent hits do happen w/o bounties and I'm afraid every hard hit is now going to be seen as part of a bounty.

I did not punch a puppy, but I did emotionally abuse a kitten through verbal mockery.

The Saints Super Bowl is not tainted. I'm sure Saints fans are returning their Saints 2009 Super Champ gear right now.

Proper tackling can go a long way to preventing injuries and also reducing head-to-head hits.

Justin, Gregg says he didn't do anything. Does that make him culpable in some way? Possibly, but I have no idea why he was in the locker room. I'm scared to guess.

Justin Zeth said...

If Gregg was in the locker room, it's very likely because he had a son playing on the team, and/or he was an assistant coach on the team.

It doesn't necessarily make him culpable, but it makes him a damned hypocrite that he said nothing at the time, then years later puts the incident in print to support his own self-righteousness.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, I would really think Gregg Easterbrook would have said something if the coach of his son's team was exhibiting behavior like that. I would hope so.

I probably shouldn't have used the word "culpable," but while he is talking about it now, he probably should have said something at the time if he was so disturbed.