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.