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updated: 3/5/2012 10:59 AM

Saints' bounty system proves pain the name of NFL game

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Spare me the disingenuous outrage over the New Orleans Saints' bounty system.

Would fans here approve of a similar system if it would help the Bears win the Super Bowl?

My guess is they would because you know, it is football and winning is the only thing.

Fans, the media and the NFL overall are in hypocritical denial over the game they love.

Gambling notwithstanding, violence is what sells the NFL. Players don't even have to play dirty; clean licks inflict enough punishment.

The Saints had a pool of cash to encourage players to blast opponents so hard that they were carried off the field and possibly disabled for at least the rest of the game.

Players' salaries are determined in large part by how viciously they tackle, how viciously they block, how viciously they run over tacklers, how viciously they bull rush blockers.

Compensation for this behavior comes from the teams themselves, which makes this a bounty league.

NFL players often insist that they don't want to hurt opponents by knocking them from here to the Mayo Clinic. What do they think, that there's no cause-and-effect between leveling a guy and him winding up in intensive care?

Ray Lewis doesn't want to inflict pain? Dick Butkus didn't want to? A guy nicknamed Mean Joe Greene didn't?

Pain is the name of the game. One of the objects is to play as much as possible with the other team's Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in both the locker room and a world of hurt.

You think the Chiefs were sorry that they knocked out the Bears' Matt Forte? Or the Chargers were when Jay Cutler's season ended against them?

Heck, maybe the Chiefs and Chargers had their own bounties going. Regardless, money wasn't the object. Winning was. The game was. Football was.

Now, don't take this to mean that players want to see other players suffer paralysis or scrambled brains. But it doesn't matter whether they want it. For too many, those debilitating physical conditions are inevitable consequences of the game.

It is football, folks. Players sign up for it. That was true even decades ago when players could make more money selling insurance than strapping on leather helmets.

Back then, bounties would have helped pay the mortgage but there was no shortage of volunteers even without bonuses.

Now that teams pay NFL players at least a half-million dollars per season and up to 10s of millions to hit people ... well, yes, that makes this a bounty league.

The irony is that not only do players enjoy smacking the snot out of opponents. Many enjoy getting their snot knocked out as symbols of their manhood.

Fans are OK with player on player atrocities. Club owners are OK with fans being OK with the atrocities. League administrators are OK with owners smiling all the way to the bank because fans are OK with the atrocities.

Yet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is angry that the Saints instituted a bounty system. Yeah, right, like football wouldn't be brutal if players didn't add incentives to apply punishing blows.

Bounty? Sorry, but the NFL don't need no stinkin' bounties generated by players and coaches. The league itself is the bold and the bounty-ful.

The Saints merely took the concept to a different level by being exposed for playing this game within the game.

Maybe the Bears can be devious enough to institute a bounty without being caught.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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