bill-swift - March 7, 2012
Really people? As the guys on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown would say: Come on man!
In case you haven't heard, Gregg Williams, former defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints and current DC for the St. Louis Rams, has admitted to allegations that he administered a bounty system while with the Saints. There is reason to believe that this is not the first time that Williams has been a part of such a thing; he may have done something similar in Washington, Tennessee, and Buffalo.
While you can almost guarantee that the man will get sanctioned by the NFL there is talk that he could be find himself in court over this whole mess. This feels like an appropriate time to say it again: Come on man!
I almost hate to say it people, but this (court) appears to be an actual possibility for Williams. Guys that saw their careers cut short due to injuries suffered due to one of his bounties could take him to civil court for lost wages. It has been widely discussed already that Williams and his bounties played a role in ending Kurt Warner and Brett Favre's careers (although Brett did need a little help realizing it was time). There is reason to believe that another bounty hit caused the first of what has turned out to be many neck issues for Peyton Manning.
To make matters worse, there could be criminal charges here as well. Essentially it would be assault and battery and there is actually legal precedent to support this. There have been several incidents on the ice in hockey games dating back to 1905 when players faced criminal charges for on-field behavior. However, in no case was a coach implicated as being complicit.
In Williams case, since he ran the bounty he could be seen as the hand wielding the weapon (the players) that caused injury; kind of like that episode of Law and Order when the shrink got charged with manslaughter for convincing his patient to kill his mother.
I've been holding this in so I could finish laying the groundwork, but I can't any longer: Come on man!
Should this scandal actually hit the courts it could very well be the end of professional sports as we know it. Where will the litigation stop? Will a coach be responsible if his player gets in a fight during a game? Will entire baseball teams be sent to jail after one of those bench-clearing brawls?
Should players or coaches be held criminally liable for on field behavior the landscape of the game (every game) will be changed forever. Baseball teams will have to forfeit games or be forced to field an entire Triple-A team after fights. The NFL might need to raise the roster limit. As for the NHL—some teams might as well put a defense lawyer on retainer and have him/her travel with the team.
What Williams did is reprehensible. The players that participated are scum; they have no honor or respect for the game. Injuries happen during play, but to intentionally hurt someone is the epitome of poor sportsmanship.
It is not something that requires legal intervention though. It requires the leagues involved to mandate better policies and have harsher repercussions for violators. If this scandal results in legal charges every hockey fight should, every time a batter gets hit with a pitch charges should be filed--every major sport will be turned into a litigious mess.
The whole steroid scandal in baseball proved that the government is more than happy to step in and try to control our sports. Do we really want Big Brother as the next commissioner of anything? Come on man!
Article by Travis Pulver
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