Bounties On The Gridiron

Mar 6 2012 @ 9:40am

Alyssa Rosenberg breaks down the latest NFL scandal, where New Orleans Saints players were incentivized to injure players on other teams:

[T]he bounties themselves were offered—and paid—not by the team but by Saints players to Saints players. And they worked as incentives because special teams players who are in a position to inflict those injuries make less than the teammates who offered them the bounties. … [I]t’s a worrisome illustration of how the league’s compensation patterns could make bounties seem worth reaching for, and could lead to them violating their own collective bargaining agreement.

Buzz Bissinger, by contrast, has no problem with the payments:

Is it barbaric? Yes. Is it terrifying? Yes. Is it sick? Yes. So what?  I’ve said it before and I will say it again: That is why we watch football. Because it is barbaric and terrifying and sick. Because we love good hits and kamikaze safety blitzes and a quarterback sitting on the field after a sack with visions of Tweety Bird dancing in his brain.

Update from a reader:

Your post is not entirely accurate, particularly the quote "[T]he bounties themselves were offered—and paid—not by the team but by Saints players to Saints players."  One of the distinctions between the Saints situation and many other stories that have come out about other teams is the source of the funds.  In addition to player contributions, the pool was allegedly funded by coaches as well.  This is an issue in both the enticing of players to aim to injure, as well as a circumvention of the league's salary cap.  Even more disturbing is the money said to come from outside the team.   Mike Ornstein, a felon (twice), who has defrauded the NFL of $350,000 also allegedly funded these bounties.  Convicted felons exerting influence on it's games is the absolute last thing the NFL wants to see.  So more then the "barbaric" nature of this, the league is more concerned about its integrity.

These details have been covered in many of the news article about the investigation.  One is here.