I’m sure the New Orleans Saints would like to send a thank you card to Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning for distracting everybody momentarily from the latest scandal to rock the NFL since the hoodie was making his home movies. But this scandal isn’t going away anytime soon. This week Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spoke about bounties and the Steelers stance on them. Also speaking publicly the issue was Steelers safety Ryan Clark, appearing on ESPN’s First Take to debate super douche Skip Bayless and defend his tweets on the topic. Not surprising to Steeler Nation, Colbert stood firm that the Steelers had no such bounty system, nor would it ever condone or allow one and Clark not only held his own against Bayless, but also took him down a peg or two. Here’s my take on the whole Bounty Gate issue and what it could do to the NFL.
A bounty system has no place in the Steelers locker room. Colbert attested to as much on Tuesday when speaking for the first time publicly since cutting veterans Ward, Smith and Farrior. Colbert was quoted as saying,
“To intentionally set out to injure another player, there’s absolutely no room for that in our game or any other game.”
He went on to speak about the era we are currently in when dealing with the lasting effects of concussions and other injuries, it’s especially important to maintain a strong focus to player safety. The fact that the bounty system in place in New Orleans was no only known by the coaches and front office, but maintained and encouraged by them is probably the most appalling part of this story. Having a coach go to a player and offer him money to intentionally injure another player is crossing a definite line. This goes far beyond a player having incentives within his contract for sacks or interceptions or college and high school players earning stickers for their helmets for big plays.
On Friday as the Bounty Gate story broke Ryan Clark took to Twitter to share his feelings on the issue at hand. One tweet in particular quickly came into question as Clark wondered who it was that was “snitching” on the Saints after the fact as opposed to “blowing the whistle” and stopping the bounty system while it was going on. Here is his tweet:
“Whoever is snitching on the Saints D should be ashamed of themselves. No one was talking about the “bounty” when they got paid. #shame!
Quickly people started reacting to this tweet as if Ryan was condoning the bounties and putting the blame towards the “snitches”. Ryan clarified his comments by stating how it was shameful that players, who took money to intentionally injure players, wouldn’t have the respect for their fellow players at the time they took the money to speak out against it to put a stop to it. He also went on to state that he has never been offered money by any coach on any team he has been a part of to “take out” an opposing player.
Ryan called in to ESPN’s First Take to debate super douche Skip Bayless on his tweets. Skip actually insinuated that Clark’s tweet led “people” to believe that not only was he a part of a bounty system when he played under Williams in Washington, but also that the Steelers had a bounty system in place currently and Clark was only defending the locker room culture of keeping it quiet. Clearly Skip was trying to turn a tweet into a story instead of listening to what Clark actually had to say about the subject. Clark’s problem at the time with it was that the “snitch” had once participated in such a dirty and disrespectful practice of taking money to endanger the livelihood of fellow players but after the fact was spilling the beans for self-preservation. Clark went on to note that not only had he never been offered money to injure players, but that no amount of money would have been large enough for him to willingly injure an opponent.