FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Headhunting in the NFL

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

—Vince Lombardi

American football fans were stunned to learn yesterday that New Orleans Saints head coach, Sean Payton, had been suspended without pay (forfeiting an estimated $8 million) for the upcoming season, after having been found guilty of issuing “bounties” on opposing players.

Although some observers expressed shock at the severity of the penalty (apparently, many NFL insiders believed Payton would receive no more than a four-game suspension), anyone who’s been following this story, and has seen it for the potentially incendiary scandal it was, realized that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had no choice but to issue a death sentence—not if he wanted to maintain the League’s credibility.

Coach Payton and his former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (whom Goodell suspended “indefinitely”) confessed to having instituted the bounties.  They’d been doing them for at least three years.  Which means what?—that they were doing them in 2010, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl?!  To those unfamiliar with the term, a “bounty” is money paid to a team’s defensive player for delivering an injury serious enough to put an opposing player (preferably the opposing quarterback) out of the game.

As cynical as we’ve become when it comes to dirty tricks and sleazeball tactics in the fields of politics and commerce, the notion of sports bounties is nonetheless repugnant to most of us.  Cynical as we may be, the concept sticks in our craw.  Maybe we’re just kidding ourselves, but sports—both professional and collegiate—seem somehow “purer,” more ethical, than politics and commerce (although we clearly recognize that sports is also a “business”).

More to the point, even the most rabid and callused fan is going to flinch at seeing an opposing player writhing in agony on the ground, knowing that he’d been purposely torpedoed by a player from the home team.  After all, there’s such a thing as sportsmanship.  But Coach Payton not only encouraged his players to do exactly that—to intentionally engage in violent headhunting—he  rewarded them with cash for doing it successfully.

Besides the sportsmanship angle, there’s another aspect to this—the risk of administering a catastrophic, career-ending injury.  A player who’s purposely trying to injure an opponent has no way of knowing if his assault will put him out of commission for one series, one quarter, one game….or for the rest of his career.  There’s no way of knowing how severe the intentional injury will be.  A very sobering consideration.

And not to jump on a man when he’s down, but Sean Payton has always been a low-class, opportunistic, disloyal shithead.  In 1987, Payton showed his true colors by crossing the union’s picket line.  It’s true.  He was a scab.  In fact, that’s the only way he made into the NFL in the first place, by betraying his union brothers.  It would be great if Payton never returned to the NFL.  The League would do just fine without him.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net


More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail