Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dogging the Bounty Hunters

So, the Packers give incentives to their defensive players based on in-game performance. This, I don't have a problem with, and considering the lack of anger from fans of the other 31 teams in the NFL, nobody else does either. Even Jon Kitna has said, "I don't know if it is against the rules; if it is, it shouldn't be". So what makes this a story? This is yet another example of the NFL having way too many rules.

I have expressed my irritation with the NFL when it comes to leading with the helmet, protecting the quarterback and taking away celebrations. In my opinion, these are either rules which at times are impossible not to break, or take away from the overall enjoyment of a football game. At least they can be defended, though. You could make the argument that leading with the helmet can kill someone, or that quarterbacks should be given special treatment or that end zone celebrations are nothing but flashy displays of taunting. But why, exactly, is there a rule against bounty hunting?

First, let's not use the term "bounty hunting" anymore. All this does is bring up imagery of mullets, shotguns, shirtless convicts and, as of now, racism. So let's use the term "in-game incentives", shall we? Now that we got that straightened out, let's see what this means. Simplified, it comes down to a coach saying, "Go get (insert player), and I'll pay you". This doesn't mean that you're supposed to injure said player, but if you did, I believe that would qualify as shutting him down. So, in theory, you could get payed to injure another player. Still, I have no problem with that. But the NFL does.

See, it is considered a loophole around the salary cap, a big no-no in this league. It's not about the welfare of the players or anything like that; it's about money, plain and simple. Why the NFL, a billion dollar operation, has a problem with millionaires receiving $500 for good play is beyond me. But they care, and technically, it's against the rules. But as Kitna says, it shouldn't be. This is football, and putting a price on another player's head is what this sport is all about. This wild west attitude cannot be extracted from the NFL, and when you make any hit deemed malicious illegal, then this is the proper evolution. Football breeds a bounty hunter way of thinking, and it will always be that way. So is the problem with the players and coaches, or does it come from higher up? One thing is for sure: once you take away the venom from the players, then there will no longer be any bite.


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