Football is like modern gladiator fighting, except with padding and fines if you mortally wound somebody. I kid. In all seriousness, football is a hard-hitting, violent sport, and its important that Roger Goodell understand that before he tries to completely change its face. Why do so many people watch football every weekend? For amazing offense, yes, but when the defense comes on the field we love to see hard hits. And up until recently, the NFL has embraced this part of its identity. When it came out in the 1980's that Buddy Ryan had placed a bounty on certain players, the whole thing was treated as a joke (for a full article, check out Shutdown Corner, the wonderful blog run by the people at Yahoo! Sports). Player safety has only recently become an issue, with certain hits being deemed "illegal" and players getting fined and/or suspended.
But this is football. It can't be that easy to tame a pack of fired up men who are hungry for blood. Its impossible to take the battle aspect out of football, because without that passion and violence, the sport is going to just be a group of guys running at each other with no point to it.Think 2012 Pro Bowl. We watch sports for their emotion, passion, and fire. This is why players play, for the emotion and to be the best that they can be.
In professional football locker rooms, it is going to be impossible to take away the bets that a player can have so many sacks in a game, or hit somebody so many times. It is entrenched in the game, and a motivation for players to do their job well and entertain the crowd that pays them. In this capacity, I don't have a problem with it. However, its taken too far when players are getting paid for injuring other players, but this is not a stand-alone case. The NFL needs to realize that it is unrealistic to think that only one coach in the league is doing this. Either they deal with this on the full scale, and launch investigations into multiple teams, if not all, or they shouldn't do anything at all. To punish Gregg Williams and the Saints won't be enough for something this entrenched in NFL culture. This could be the next phase of Goodell's attempt to tweak the mindset of the football world, if he plays his cards right.