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Goodell never played in the NFL and doesn't get it

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What has become abundantly clear to me today, is Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, doesn't fully understand the league he is presiding over.

After learning the NFL will hear the "bounty hunting" appeals from New Orleans Saints' staff, including head coach Sean Payton, in the next few days, I caught this tidbit from Goodell on CBS.com: "I am profoundly troubled by the fact that players -- including leaders among the defensive players -- embraced this program so enthusiastically and participated with what appears to have been a deliberate lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow players."

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Did he really say that? They "participated with what appears to have been a deliberate lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow players"? We are talking about football here, aren't we?

If professional football players were overly concerned with the well-being of their fellow players, they wouldn't play the game. Does he actually think what we do in between the hash marks is good for us?

And when he speaks of how the bounty program was embraced so enthusiastically by the players, does he not understand the defensive mentality that is so enthusiastically preached and ingrained in every single pro that enters his league?

It is most certainly too late to do any good, but I have some new evidence to disclose that may give Roger a better perspective on bounty hunting in the NFL.

It just so happens that during these mundane revelations of cash payouts for knockout hits, Mike Renaud, punter extraordinaire for the Blue and Gold, was renovating my basement, and subsequently, I had to clean the entire thing out.

Lo and behold, there, amongst all of my spring cleaning, was my NFL memorabilia pile from my 3.41 seasons down south, and wouldn't you know it, I discovered some critical pieces of evidence relevant to this case.

I had a hobby in the NFL that I'm not very proud about divulging.

I used to keep all of my defensive playbooks.

At the end of the year when you are supposed to hand them in, or when you are released from a team and you are supposed to give them back, I never did.

I wasn't sure at the time if I wanted to get into coaching after my career, so I figured if one day I did, it might be helpful to have all of these brilliant defensive schematics at my fingertips.

 

I have a playbook from the Bills in 1997, I have two playbooks under one co-ordinator from 1998 and 1999 with the Redskins, and I have another Redskins playbook from another coach in 2000.

You won't believe what I found in each and every one of them: transcriptions of bounty bonanzas.

Such damning evidence it is, if Roger is going suspend Sean Payton for a year for allowing a program where players are paid to hurt other players, he is gonna be awfully busy the next little while.

In each and every one of these playbooks I possess, you can find explicit instructions for all the defensive players to impact their opponent to the greatest degree possible and at every opportunity. Now I don't know about you, Roger, but that sounds to me like these coaches wanted me to hurt the other players that we faced.

I don't know what the words, "punish," "explode into," and, "gang tackle," mean to you, but to me, the results of following these directions could and would result in somebody getting hurt. And these weren't just words, these are descriptions of the techniques and style of play we were taught in practice.

Alas, these instructions were only words on a page within a handbook, right?

Every time I was offered a bounty for taking someone out during the course of my career, I always scoffed at the idea because it was already something I was inherently being paid to do by the team I played for. Not illegally, not outside of the rules of the game, but every time a defensive player hits an offensive player, he hopes it is done with enough force to take him out of the game and help his team win.

Roger, I realize it is too late in the game for you to recognize the absurdity of the charges you are levying, and to learn the culture and brutal nature of the game and league you oversee. Such is what happens when you have a commissioner who has never played pro ball before.

But if you break down the job description and player manual every team hands out, and examine the way we are coached on a daily basis, every single defensive player is guilty of these transgressions -- or at least of attempting them -- so stop trying to make an example of Sean Payton.

 

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press. Contact him on Twitter @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2012 C1

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