Bounty or motivation: a slippery slope in football

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Stevie Chow

a slippery slope in football (Stevie Chow)

Tom Rizza and Tom Rizza

“We hit (Alex) Smith right there”-[points to chin]–‘remember me.’ I got the first one. I got the first one.-[rubs fingers together indicating cash]-Go lay that mother (expletive) out.”

Those are the words of former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, taped by documentarian Sean Pamphilon, in a team meeting the night before the divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

I’m sure most football fans have heard their fair share of the rest of the speech and its chilling exposé into Williams’ maniacal intent of affecting the head, breaking ankles and taking out a player’s ACL.

Football is a violent sport. Sure, hardcore fans appreciate the strategy and the immense skill that goes into winning a football game. But in the end, the spectacle of watching a group of six-foot, 250-pound men in spandex and pads running into each other at top speed is what intrigues the casual fan. It’s a fascination that’s been a part of human life for thousands of years, with the Roman coliseum and jousting standing in the fore front of my mind. We love to see people get laid out.

But as spectators, we don’t like to see violence with intent on the field. This is where the violence in football toes a fine line. I caught up with Vikings running back Dozie Iwuagwu to find out more about the difference between motivation and intent.

“I’ve never dealt with it personally (a bounty system),” said Iwuagwu. “But you do hear some crazy things on the field. I remember last year we played against my old team Sierra and I heard them yelling from the side lines ‘kill that RB, eliminate that RB!,’ but I never thought they were actually going to kill me. That’s just what they say to play harder.”

A lot of what Gregg Williams said is standard as a motivational tool in football; getting men riled up to go out and possibly injure someone or themselves is no easy task. Money changes the dynamic entirely.

“It’s bad what you hear about the NFL these days and the money,” said Iwuagwu. “It’s a

violent game, but you can’t take it too serious. You go out and you play hard and hit hard, but that doesn’t mean you try to injure guys.”

There is a huge difference between motivating players to give it everything they have and giving them incentives to injure the opposition to gain an advantage. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wholeheartedly agrees, and as such has passed out the most hardcore punishment the league has ever seen.

Gregg Williams, hired by the St. Louis Rams in the off-season, has been suspended

indefinitely and the Saint’s head coach Sean Payton has been slapped with a season long suspension. They were also fined $500,000 and lost two second round draft picks.

Hopefully, this harsh punishment will act as a fair warning to any other bloodthirsty coach that wants to destroy the integrity of what is quickly becoming “America’s game.”