By Michael Collins
A National Football League (NFL) investigation just found that the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, and defensive players developed a scheme of cash rewards for game ending hits on key opposing players. A defensive hit that led to a targeted player being carted off the field was worth $1500. A game ending injury for an opponent, called a kill shot was also worth $1500. The cash rewards were increased substantially for playoff games. (Sports Illustrated video)
The targets were the likes of hall of fame quarterbacks Bret Favre and Kurt Warner. Williams was closely involved with the reward system using money from Saints defensive players. The Washington Post reported that tough-talking Williams ran a similar bounty system when he coached under Joe Gibbs at the Washington Redskins (Gibbs denies knowing about this). There was no mention of the Washington team in the NFL announcement.
Williams fell all over himself apologizing for his role in the conspiracy to injure scheme. “I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.” Gregg Williams, former Saints defensive coordinator. NFL.COM March 2
The NFL indicated that Saints head coach Sean Payton knew and did nothing about the pay-for-pain scheme. The team’s general manager was tasked with investigating the scheme. He failed to do anything to impede the antisocial behavior of his subordinates and the team. Team owner, Tom Benson, seemed untouched in any direct way. The NFL statement indicated that Benson had responded to NFL inquiries by asking the GM and coach to take care of it.
Owner Benson’s official statement is cavalier about any culpability or responsibility. He looks to the future.
“I have been made aware of the NFL’s findings relative to the “Bounty Rule” and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans.” Tom Benson, owner, New Orleans Saints, March 2 (Image: New Orleans Lady)
The Sporting News article had these telling lines:
“Asked about potential criminal charges, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said:
“‘We believe that any violation of league rules should and will be handled by the Commissioner.’” Sporting News, March 2
In an interview, Kurt Warner was generally gracious about hard hits and the impact they have on the game. It was apparent that he didn’t know the full story on the pay-for-pain and injury scheme. The NFL.COM interviewer asked him, “If you found out later that he was paid for that hit, would you have a problem with it?” At that point, Warner said “I would definitely have a problem with that.”
When is Premeditated Violence with the Intent to Injure Above the Law?
That would be when you’re the National Football League. They uncovered a conspiracy to inflict pain and bodily injury on football players. In addition to the injuries resulting from kill shots, the actions of Gregg and his thugs threatened to limit or end the ability of targeted players to earn a living. These are criminal and civil crimes.
Did the NFL attorneys report these crimes to the police? The attorneys are officers of the court. They are obliged to do so.
But they didn’t. The NFL is above the law. Why? Because they said so and because they’re allowed to behave in this fashion.
The creepy coach Williams is a serial conspirator to commit bodily pain and injury (having done this at the Redskins, as well). He thinks that all he has to do is say, Sorry. I was wrong. I’ll never do it again.
The coach, who tried to play himself off as a man of the people before this Super Bowl, was criminally negligent. He was informed and knew or should have known that he was responsible for stopping this. The safety and livelihood of opposing players was at stake. The same culpability falls on the general manager, who did nothing.
Then there is the beloved Tom Benson, owner of the Saints. It’s his team. He was informed of the activities. He knew of the threats. He simply passed the information along and did nothing to confirm that the problem was resolved. He never checked back or indicated that he’d ever heard of the concept of quality assurance in management.
The story of the Saints premeditated violence and the above the law response of the NFL is a parable for the broader social environment of the United States. The absence of any moral reasoning throughout the entire Saints organization is typical of what we’ve seen Wall Street get away with and the outright crimes of violence committed by United States Presidents and officials for decades. They engage in illegal activities, get caught. People are injured, suffer, and die as a result of the illegal activities.
What is the consequence? In the case of Wall Street, there is no punishment, just ongoing bonuses, although somewhat smaller during tough years. For Bush, Cheney, Powell, Madeleine Albright, etc., there is no punishment. Instead, these monsters get fat cat jobs, lecture fees, and for those most culpable, there is always the Medal of Freedom.
The Saints organization consists of bad actors, people who go beyond the expected risks and violence of the game. Based on what the NFL said, we can only assume that, from top to bottom, the members of that organization get off on cheap shots and injuries.
The Saints organization and players are a case where the markets can actually take care of it. Hopefully, the value of their endorsement contracts will plunge and the team will be greeted appropriately at away games.
As for Wall Street and the elected and appointed perpetrators of massive violence, there is no sanction. There never will be under the current system.
They are all above the law.e
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