All of the recent issues regarding the bounty scandal and the class action lawsuit by former players against the league have begun to worry me with regard to the essence and spirit of the game we all love. It's no secret that as time goes on, the culture and media continue to seem to push a more and more politically correct narrative down our throat. Anything and everything is becoming politicized, and that includes the sport of football. I think a lot of you will agree with me that that is the worst thing that could ever happen to the game. See my thoughts after the jump.
First take the class action lawsuit from some 126 (and counting) former NFL players. The complaint is that the league purposely concealed the long term dangers of concussions from the players and the public. I'm not going to make any judgments on the truth of that claim, because I don't know. I haven't seen the evidence or claims from either side, so it's impossible to really know if the league knowingly hid the medical dangers, and a judgment of that kind is outside of the scope of this Fan Post anyway. Rather, I am concerned about the repercussions the case and subsequent media coverage will have on the game. Don't put it past sleazy politicians from both sides to try to make names for themselves by introducing legislation or strong-arming the league into changing the game at a fundamental level.
Next consider the problem that this bounty scandal has created. This is garnering far more media coverage than the lawsuit (at least at this time). You now have sports pundits on ESPN with all their glorious knowledge calling for federal investigations into a matter that seems to be completely outside the jurisdiction of the feds. But as I said, these power hungry people someday almost assuredly will make a push to either ban the game or fundamentally change it, which would be tantamount to ending it anyway.
I think Roger Goodell and the other higher ups in the NFL front offices are aware of this. Personally, I'm not a big fan of everything Goodell has done. I think some of the rules changes are overbearing and have tamed the sport too much, especially with regard to making the quarterback nigh untouchable. However, I understand why they've done it. They're trying to curtail any potential future attempt to infringe upon the essence of the game. The necessary properties that make football what it is. In that regard, I think Goodell has a lot of foresight in trying to eliminate any possible complaint that may be leveled against the league. He'll just point to a rule change and say, "Look, without destroying the game, we've done what we can." That's the point, I think, when some smarmy guy in DC will just say we need to ban the sport. They tried it at the advent of the game.
So in a sense, I agree with Bernard Pollard's earlier sentiments. These players know completely what they're signing up for. They're not sissies. They play a game that they know is very physically demanding and violent. They aren't forced to. They choose to. I don't think bounty programs should be a part of the game at all. The game has rules and they need to be followed. They make the game fun and interesting and loaded with thought provoking strategies. It's like a rough game of chess almost, and honorable men who follow the rules should play the game. But let's not let the actions of a few influence some to ruin the strategy and physical nature of the game because of political correctness. That's the last thing that should infest the National Football League.