Considering how long bounties have been used in pro football, is there a double standard in enforcing the NFL rule prohibiting the use of them?
Mark Kriegel of Fox Sports asks a lot of good questions and gives us a lot to think about. He paints a picture where Tony Dungy and other (see Joe Horn video) corroborate that bounties have been prevalent for years but (that they) quietly never snitched and ratted out violators.
Then there are the words of John Lynch, the Pro Bowl and future HOF player:
"Over the past few days I've heard a few people, including former players, say that this is a league-wide problem. That's total BS. I played in the NFL for 15 years for two teams and never once was offered money to knock someone out of a game. If I had been offered money, I'd be a really wealthy man today. I even called some of my friends that played to see if they ever had been offered any bounties. None had. Don't get me wrong, we had player-generated incentives within our locker room, like $500 for interceptions or forced fumbles, but never, ever for hurting someone."
But Lynch circles back to the same points that Kriegel makes, the question about hypocrisy with respect to the NFL glorifying hits while simultaneously preaching safety:
".. if player safety is the way the league is going to go, then the first step needs to be for the NFL to admit that the rules have changed."
As everyone knows, football is a contact sport. What happens when a player is hitting a guy low enough to miss the head, but then the offensive player drops his head and helmet to helmet contact is made? We've watched more than our fair share of plays recently where some hits are fined incorrectly and other hits that should be flagged/fined go unpunished.
There has to be a way for the NFL to bring in more safety to protect the players and remove the inconsistency/hypocrisy, without compromising the game. Maybe what this means is that ESPN can't go on an endless loop where they keep showing incredible hits, glorifying the punishment being dished out. Maybe the NFL doles out punishment to the Saints and all others for 2011 only, thereby putting everyone on notice that going forward the enforcement is going to be there.
Antonio Pierce talked on radio about the past and going forward. Maybe that has to be where the line is drawn, pre-2011 and 2011+. That will catch the Saints and probably a few others, but will also allow the NFL to move forward and get greater consistency in its priority for player safety.