How did we get here?
The New Orleans Saints, pre-appeal decision, have lost their head coach for the entire 2012 season. Sean Payton was aware of Gregg William’s bounty system and in Roger Goodell’s NFL, this merits a year long suspension. Is turning a blind-eye to something as implicitly wrong as a system designed to give monetary rewards for inflicting injuries that transcend football enough to forfeit a considerable amount of expertise, and an indefinite but significant number of wins?
When the designer of the bounty system not only gives himself a nickname, but creates one that makes no fucking sense. When your Defensive Coordinator one day just beings referring to himself as Dr. Heat, you probably need to question why you hired this man in the first place.
Did he go to medical school? Was his major in Blitz-ology, or thermodynamics? Did he change his last name to Heat after medical school? So many questions, so little time. Regardless.
Did I mention Game of Thrones starts up again tomorrow? Well, that’s relevant, because when you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. Similarly, in the NFL, when you coach, you win or die. You don’t actually die but you do lose your job. The turnover rate for a head coach in the NFL is painfully high, particularly if you go to Oakland. In the NFL there has been such a need created to win immediately that often times head coaches barely put their shit down, let alone create a system, before getting the boot. I’m not about to sit here and justify the malicious intent to injure other players, but I will not blame Sean Payton for electing to plug his ears and hum while Dr. Heat planned a devious method by which their team’s mediocre defense could hold the other team to less points. The Saints are an offensive team in case you hadn’t noticed. They win by outscoring other teams in spectacular fashion, without the talent to stop defensively, playing dirty was Williams’ repulsive solution. Can we really blame Sean Payton for wanting some job security? Yes, because he knew, just like we do now, that a bounty program is completely fucked. But, I would argue that we can all see WHY he would choose to ignore it, right or wrong. It’s easy to point our fat stubby fingers at him and say “you fucked up” but if we were in the same position, who’s to say we wouldn’t make the same choice, lest we end up like Ned Stark (sans beheading).
Just as we also know now, Sean Payton HAD to have known the depth of bounty programs in the league. Just because Dr. Heat was the one to be caught, doesn’t necessarily make this a single case. The copy-cat nature of the league makes it virtually impossible for Gregg Williams to be the sole perpetrator for something (as fucked up as it is) so successful. I can guarantee you that the other similar programs in the league are now half way down the toilet and all their carpets have been bleached, but they WERE still there at one time. If Roger “Horatio” Goodell were to run some more tests down at the lab I’m sure we’d find something more like an epidemic, rather than one sicko.
If the commish is so blatantly opposed to shady undertakings, from a Sean Payton perspective, for survival in a dog-eat-dog league; why not take some pressure off of these people? If I know that the minute I finish below .500 I’m out my ass, I might let some idiot named Professor Touchdown or Archduke Interception run some shady tricks if that meant I don’t have to up and move again to become a quarterbacks coach. Do your worst Professor, I ain’t lookin’.
Here's how it played out:
Dr. Heat: “Hey, I’m gonna run this thing with our defense that makes us win. It’s shady and people are going to get hurt, but it’s my idea and we’ll win using it. All you gotta do is act like nothing’s wrong. Cool?”
Payton: “Hmm. OK, just don’t kill anyone.”
It was probably a tad more complicated than that, but wins and job security go hand in hand, and I’m positive that’s an offer worth the guilt.
If ol’Roger is going to play bad cop-bad cop with this league he should make sure at the end of the day he’s actually doing something for the betterment of it. It’s easy enough to be a hard-ass and make examples of people caught with their hand in the intentional concussion cookie-jar, but by blurring the lines as to what is and isn’t acceptable, there is nothing to take away at the end of the day.
Goodell’s interests are implicitly sided with the owners. We came a lot closer to missing games this year than people realize. Of course, the lockout nightmare is not solely on Goodell’s granite ass, the PA steadfastly stuck to their position of spoiled toddler the entire time as well. But, the point is he has never been shy about his position. So it would seem obvious, for me anyway, for Goodell to work with his owner buddies to turn this league into a safer place for coaches, where they don’t have to Spygate or sell their bodies to the night (Rooooxaaaneee) to keep their jobs. This would in turn make it a safer league for the players who don’t have to go around trying to yank off Brett Favre’s testicles. There would be no need to be shady assholes if you knew you would have enough time to implant a proper system. If you still lose, then you deserve to be fired - but won’t be sent packing just because the owner doesn’t like your shirt on the first day.
We got to this point in time through a one sided relationship between the commissioner and the league. There's a time and place to flex your muscles, and that is never and nowhere if you are a weiner. If you need to throw the book at every offender, no matter how minutely involved, at least throw it in both directions. Some regulation on the owners can go a long way. Also, if you're going to throw a book make it a decent read, I don't wanna get hit in the face by a hardcover of fucking Twilight (I do realize this analogy make no sense).
Do the right thing here Rog'. If you must make an example, give Payton eight games. You can do whatever you wish with Dr. Heat. Start by stripping him of his medical license and then maybe push him in a big mud puddle; whatever makes you feel good at the end of the day. Just take a deep breathe, everything will be OK.