As I write this, "Bountygate" is falling off the news pages. The bullet points -- Gregg Williams is the former defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. It has been discovered (although how the investigation was conducted has not been revealed) that he had a bounty system in place. Players would get money for another player being carted off the field, more if they knocked them unconscious. Suddenly, people are looking at football games in a new light. Their precious players, like Peyton Manning? Maybe the reason he's so injured is because of that nasty Williams and his bounty system!
It's not because I don't like football that I'm not getting worked up by this. It's because none of this matters. Not to the players, not to the fans.
Let me prove it.
First, the players. Does anyone out there REALLY think no one else has a bounty system in place? Even if all they get are bragging rights (you can't tell me no one wanted to be the one to end Brett Farve's record-setting streak of starts), all the players derive from targeting specific elements of the game to brag about instead of actually winning the competition (this mentality happens all the time in video games, with unlockable achievements, badges, and other stuff that has nothing to do with the actual game mechanics and is either luck or just showing off).
Doubt me? Allow me to remind you of a fellow by the name of Jack Tatum. Tatum was one of the roughest players the NFL had ever seen. He was christened "The Assassin" when he collided with New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley and paralyzed him. He was cheered for it, given his definitive nickname, and was damn proud of it. To the point that, when he wrote his second book, They Still Call Me Assassin, he tried contacting Stingley ostensibly for a meet-up but in reality to hype the book. Tatum's first book, They Call Me Assassin, he gives a meticulous breakdown of the bounty system his team used. Other players admit to bounty systems themselves. Of course, the only ones admitting it are retired players. Hmm...interesting....
What's more, there's already a legalized bounty system in place. It's called "gambling". Whether private wagers among the players or actual book on game events, that becomes the focus.
And this ties in with the problem with the fans. The fans don't care about the players. Football is a weird dichotomy where violence and wicked hits and acting like a cro-magnon on a coffee buzz is great stuff and being manly and shit (this even carries over into some video games. Super High Impact was one of my favorites, but the game does feature not only a rating of how hard a sack is, complete with the announcer praising or insulting you, but under the right circumstances, the players will riot on the field and you have to win that. Doesn't affect the score, just bragging rights. I didn't consider it anything to brag about because I set my rapid fire for max and just held down the button). But they like it cartoony, like The A-Team. Lots of action, but no one REALLY gets hurt. So something happens that reminds them that, yes, these people do get hurt, and they act all concerned.
Of course, they do it because they can safely ignore it. Players that retire from football are on so many medications for pain, it would make Elvis blush. Constant surgeries to correct torn body parts. Internal damage (especially in the brain) from getting run into by 250 lbs. of meat impacting you at 25 MPH. Oh, and no health coverage from the Player's Union once they leave the league. Their entire lives are over before they are 35. And no one gives a shit about them, all they care about is the current name players and seeing them win.
Football is a brutal sport that destroys its players for the entertainment of the viewers who don't care about what happens afterwards other than when the next game starts. For them to start worrying about players getting targeted for injuries is disingenuous. Why aren't they that worried any other time? Only in this world can there be people who want violent and dangerous entertainment as long as it isn't "too" violent and unsafe.
Quit pretending this is an aberration. And quit pretending you care. None of you really do.