Whenever a juicy story happens in the world of sports, columnist everyone begin to salivate. So when the news of Gregg Williams’s bounty program broke late Friday afternoon, columnist had all weekend to stew on just the exact angle to approach Bountygate.
With that much time and so many interested in the story, there were bound to be columnists that go overboard. So we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that CBS Sports’ Gregg (two G’s too) Doyle and New York Post’s Phil Mushnik have worked the word “jail” into their columns about Williams and Bountygate.
We’ll let our old friend Doyle have first crack at it.
Because what he did was more than unacceptable, worse than unethical.
What he did was criminal.
Those were crimes his players committed at his behest, and there’s no room here for debate. Not according to a retired judge of nearly 15 years who was a criminal defense attorney for more than a decade before that, and a law professor specializing in criminal law for a decade before that.
“No might be about it,” the retired judge told me Sunday, when I called him to ask if Gregg Williams’ bounty system “might be” criminal. “There’s no question, this was criminal. If a player was hurt, and he was hurt by players playing outside the rules — with intent to injure, and ‘intent’ is the key word here — that makes it a battery. No one in the NFL consents to being hit in such a way that is intended to injure them. This was criminal.”
The retired judge is his father Robert, of course, but no need to get into that.
Let’s let Mushnik have his turn.
This Saints bounty thing, the last three seasons? Let’s speak it, write it, treat it and prosecute it for what it was: organized crime.
No matter what actions Roger Goodell takes, he’s not the law of this land, and the Saints organization clearly and systemically committed crimes, cash incentives included.
For years, the NFL’s version of “tackle football” had been headed for a rendezvous with criminality. In the Saints’ case, pro football became less a sport than a purposefully coached under-business that rewarded excessive brutality and attempts to maim and disable opponents — opponents, known in the big business world, as competitors.
And that meets every standard of what the fronts of our newspapers, district attorneys and attorneys general classify as organized crime.
Let Goodell do as he wishes. At this point I don’t yet doubt his sincerity in seeing the Saints’ participating management, coaches and players-turned-hit-men punished. Goodell, better very late than never, has seemed inclined to return tackling to tackle football.
Though there has been no allegation of criminal activity, just a violation of NFL code, this goes far beyond and above Goodell and the NFL. This is a matter for Louisiana’s Attorney General, James “Buddy” Caldwell, regardless of whether he and his constituents are big Saints fans.
The old “organized crime” angle, huh? Come on.
Look, you can argue Williams committed a crime. That is allowed. But going there starts you down a really slippery slope. One that ends up with the NFL looking nothing like it looks today. If we wanted to go down this path, a lot of people are going to jail in the NFL. Not just Williams. It’s almost like Doyle and Mushnik believe that Williams is the only person PRESENTLY doing this in the NFL. Almost.
You just have to remember that over a weekend, you can find many angles to take on a story this big.