I have to admit that I still find myself referring to our local professional football team as the Los Angeles Rams. Of course, there was a time when the team was the Cleveland Rams, before moving to L.A. in 1946.
So if someone asks me about great Rams quarterbacks, I think of Roman Gabriel or Norm Van Brocklin—and not Kurt Warner.
The odds seem pretty good they will be the L.A. Rams again in the not-too-distant future.
I realize this doesn’t sit well with Chesterfield residents who have forked over big bucks for the Personal Seat License, just to have the right to buy a season ticket.
Now I never thought of the football Cardinals as the Chicago Cardinals, because when they moved to St. Louis in 1960, I was only 7 years old, and too busy trying to memorize the real Cardinals' numbers and batting averages.
The last professional football games I attended were in 1990s Washington, D.C. as a sportswriter, and not a fan.
So I am rather amazed at how local fans, New Orleans fans, local sports columnists, and talk show hosts seem to play down the indefinite suspension of recently hired Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and the one-year suspension of Williams’ former boss Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints head coach.
The suspensions have to do with Williams and the New Orleans Saints paying a bonus or bounty to defensive players to injure opposing players.
Williams was offering money on a graduated scale, for hitting players and forcing them to leave a game, knocking them unconscious, forcing a quarterback out of a game. To top it off, one case involved a very special bonus for crippling an opposing star player—with a season-ending and possibly career-ending ACL knee injury.
Paying people to seriously injure other people is at its root—conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. That's a crime, a felony crime.
Sure enough, football is a rough game associated with injuries. But paying players bonuses to not only tackle hard but injure people, goes beyond the bounds of the game.
First, it affects the fans in the most basic place. . .their wallets. NFL teams pay large signing bonus and salaries to players projected to make an impact, especially quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. Management counts on recouping these costs through league television revenue and through ticket sales.
Nowadays, the bottom line even includes making fans buy a license before they can purchase a season ticket for prime seats.
It should be of grave concern when the competition tries to destroy your investment, whether it be for a game, a season or forever.
Many people have said the bonus system, or something akin to it, has been going on in college and pro football for years. They say Williams’ and Payton’s actions are not unique. Maybe so.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn't arrest people who commit crimes, because “everyone has been doing it for a long time.” For example, there are far more victims of domestic assault and children sexually assaulted than there are crimes reported, or arrests, but we don't stop arresting for those crimes.
The way I see it, Williams sure is fortunate not to have been charged with crimes.
Because if you pay someone to run onto a 120 by 53.5 yard field in order to injure someone—you're a criminal.