MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

December 13, 2012

More to blame than coaches

— Professional football is a violent sport.

Fans pay to see the high-speed collisions. The league makes money off those violent exchanges.

Punishiment for the New Orleans Saints pay-for-pain scandal will never fit the crime.

That’s because so many more people have culpability in fostering an attitude where violence is king in the National Football League.

Saints coaches created a program where players could get under-the-table payments for knocking opponents out of games.

Several Saints coaches were suspended and their punishment was upheld because they participated in a coverup and continued the program after being told to stop by the league office.

The players accepted the attitude and the payments.

This week, a former NFL commissioner vacated all the punishment against players suspended for their alleged roles in the program.

The former commissioner said there was not enough evidence to prove the players deserved the punishment.

The players got off lucky.

At least some players accepted money from coaches, or the coaches would be complaining more about their punishment.

There is a fine line between violent tackles and intentional injuries that players should not cross.

It also is highly likely that other teams in the league have had such programs.

The Saints just got caught and then failed to end the program.

The violent attitude exists throughout the league.

The value of punishiment is as a deterrent to others.

Hopefully, vacating the players’ punishment does not encourage others to create bounty programs.

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