At Starting Safety … Dick Durbin?

Earlier this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent the New Orleans Saints to football purgatory after an investigation exposed a “bounty” system that rewarded players for delivering “bone-jarring” hits in the truest sense of the term. The punishment was forceful and fitting: Coaches and managers who created or condoned a system intended to sideline the competition will be sidelined themselves.

For standing up for player safety and defending the integrity of the game, Goodell’s actions have earned rave reviews – a fact that has not gone unnoticed on Capitol Hill. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin yesterday announced plans to hold hearings on bounties in professional sports. That means the NFL has a new star player at armchair quarterback. 

Here’s part of what Durbin said to ESPN: “Let’s be real basic about it here. If this activity were taking place off of a sporting field, away from a court, nobody would have a second thought [about whether it’s wrong].”

For the sake of fair play, let’s make a couple substitutions. Take Senator Durbin’s quotation, replace “a sporting field” with “the Senate” and “a court” with “Congress,” and here’s what you get: “Let’s be real basic about it here. If this activity were taking place off of the Senate, away from Congress, nobody would have a second thought [about whether it’s wrong].”

Hmm, this is a hard one. Can anyone think of any examples of activity in the Senate that might qualify? Goodell has proven that he can police his own league. The bet here is that he doesn’t need any lessons in discipline from the Majority Whip.

  1. dittoheadadt

    Here’s the part I don’t get yet.  If you sideline an opposing player with a legal hit, what’s the problem?  Even if there’s a bounty system, if the hit is legal, then so what?

    I mean, the NFL and the networks in their own promos highlight big hits.  So…exploiting big (legal) hits is ok if done for financial gain by the league and their network partners, but exploiting big (legal) hits is a crime against humanity if done for financial gain by the teams?

    Friggin’ Goodell is such a tool.

  2. KC Mulville

    B.u.d.g.e.t.

  3. Whiskey Sam
    dittoheadadt: Here’s the part I don’t get yet.  If you sideline an opposing player with a legal hit, what’s the problem?  Even if there’s a bounty system, if the hit islegal, then so what?

    Watch some of those Saints clips from the last few years, and you’ll see many hits which were not legal whether they were flagged or not.  It was obvious to other teams they were deliberately trying to injure opponents judging by the number of players and coaches over the last three years complaining about the Saints specifically, saying something beyond the norm was going on there.  There was enough activity after plays were over that they were being referred to as “the toughest team in football after the whistle.”

    Durbin wants a new law regarding bounties in pro sports, but how is this not already illegal under existing law?  If Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi can face criminal charges for what they did in the heat of the moment in a hockey game, how is a premeditated, systematic program designed to encourage and reward injuring opponents not also criminally liable?

  4. Chairborne

    “Let’s be real basic about it here. If this activity were taking place off of the Senate, away from Congress, nobody would have a second thought [about whether it’s wrong].”

    How about forcing someone to purchase something they don’t want, need or might violate their beliefs? Health insurance? Contraception? Abortions? If it wasn’t the government doing this, would anybody question whether it was wrong?

  5. Jonathan Horn
    C

    Genferei: I take your point. As silly as it seems for Senator Durbin and company to hold hearings on bountygate, we can be thankful at least that it’s probably an issue where they can inflict little harm. 

    genferei: Deliberately seeking to injure is unsportsmanlike and has no place in sports. While I think I’d rather have politicians looking at something peripheral rather than imperiling more fundamental freedoms, I’d rather have them doing neither. When the US was at its most dynamic and ex · 2 hours ago

  6. Trace

    The more time that Dick Durbin is expressing outrage for the camera over bounties for illegal hits in football, the less time he has to do damage in places where it matters. Here’s hoping the hearings drag on for months.

  7. genferei

    Deliberately seeking to injure is unsportsmanlike and has no place in sports. While I think I’d rather have politicians looking at something peripheral rather than imperiling more fundamental freedoms, I’d rather have them doing neither. When the US was at its most dynamic and ex

  8. genferei

    pansive [stupid new edit control], Washington DC was a part time town and fever swamp, and the State Department had a permanent staff of 18.

  9. Give Me Liberty

    Insider trading

  10. Give Me Liberty

    Ronnie Lott once said the purpose of a hard hit was to steal the other man’s will.  There may have been none better than Ronnie playing safety and I don’t recall anyone ever considering him a dirty player.  An important thing about Ronnie was that as well as being one of the most ferocious hitters in the game he was also very fundamentally sound.  Today, in the absence of sound fundamentals, you get buffoonish coaches creating incentives for players to play with a thuggish physicality instead of sound skills.

  11. John Russell

    Now that everything’s on line it will be that much easier for Websters to replace the definitions of the words mope, ninny, doofus, and village idiot with Durbin’s photo.

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