With my feet dangling over the armrest of my couch, I reached for Sunday’s newspaper cluttering the floor. Rummaging through it, I spotted the sports section poking out from under the comics and instantly grab it. Scanning through baseball spring training stats and basketball game scores, my eyes landed on a particularly interesting article.
The story was about some disturbing news involving the New Orleans Saints, one of NFL’s top teams last season. “What could’ve possibly gone wrong?” I thought to myself. A cheating scandal of some sort? As I continued reading, the words “bounty” and “program” flashed through my mind and I realized I was off by a mile.
Apparently, a defensive coordinator for the Saints administered a program that had the team’s players, as many as 27 of them, intentionally injure people from opposing teams. And that’s not even the sick part about this twisted game; they get paid big bucks. We’re not talking about a couple of fifties here and there, more like thousands.
The players received $1,000 if they could knock a person down so hard he had to be carried off the field. This was known as a “cart-off.” Fifteen hundred went into their pockets if they could pull off a “knockout,” which is when players are forced out for the remainder of a game due to an injury. And the pool just kept getting bigger. This wasn’t just for one year either. It was being run over multiple seasons, which made me question why no one had found out until now.
This is taking things too far, and because the the players who were involved haven’t been penalized yet just makes me feel more disgusted. How can authorities not have charged them with something, anything? How can this just be overlooked? They are hurting players for their own profit! This isn’t supposed to be about the money; it’s supposed to be about the game and entertaining the fans.
Have we lost the meaning of football? Athletes should be playing for the adrenaline pumping in their bodies, the wild crowds roaring in the stands, and the rush they feel catching a game-winning touchdown. Sadly, it’s not about any of those things anymore. It’s about the big green pieces of paper and doing anything they can to get their hands on them, even if it means brutally hurting another person. But is it worth it when they have to inflict pain on someone else?
I guess it is. If that’s what football really is now, then I would rather stick to baseball.