When we hear a comment, regardless of its importance, context is everything, and sometimes it takes the passage of time to bring to light the true context behind things players and coaches say.
As we all know by now, Gregg Williams was slammed with an indefinite suspension last month by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The penalty is the most severe punishment ever handed down to a coach in the history of the league, and it sent a strong message.
That message was sent and received, but I’m beginning to wonder if such a harsh punishment put Goodell into a corner in future cases.
In January, Giants linebacker Jacquain Williams made a very questionable comment about 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams. Jacquain Williams said,
“The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game”.
Even at the time of the comment, it was pushing the boundary between what is acceptable. I would argue that the comment crossed the line of acceptable behavior even prior to the new found context that we can now associate with it. Such a comment forces us to wonder if bounty programs, whether as formal as Williams’ program in New Orleans or not, are far reaching in the NFL.
If bounty programs are indeed farther reaching than we had originally thought, Roger Goodell may be forced to investigate many teams, and considering the magnitude of the punishments handed down to the Saints’ coaches, Goodell may be forced to begin handing out year-long suspensions like they’re candy.
I’ll be clear on this point, I don’t expect the above idea to come to fruition, but it does remain a possibility, and the NFL can’t simply ignore comments made by players. It’s possible for one player to take it upon himself to take out a key player of the opposing team, but Williams’ comment suggests it was a team effort when he said, “…so that was our biggest thing…”
I’m not sure the NFL is ready for a full scale, league wide investigation of bounty programs, and I’m not sure that NFL fans are ready to know the extent of such programs. I guess it’s really just a question of whether you want the red pill or the blue pill.