Headhunting in the NFL
Many electrons have been spilled regarding the “bounty” system the New Orleans Saints appear to have used for great effect, culminating in a Super Bowl win. The most notorious game was the NFL Championship game, where the Saints won in large part by turning Brett Favre, hit by hit, into a quivering and ineffective meat sack.
I can recall watching the game most in question, the Saints versus the Vikings, and Favre was indeed battered mercilessly. It seemed to me the Vikings had the far better team, but due in part to the Favre beat down, ended up losing the game. Good thing he was wearing his Wranglers.
If you can’t tell, I’m no Brett Favre fan but I see what I view as dirty play all the time. It seems to me football should take a page from soccer and consider some sort of yellow card/red card system to try and better manage dirty, dangerous, and unsportsmanlike play, which happens in the NLF with great frequency.
For example, a first dirty hit in a game would result in a yellow card (or maybe a red card, depending on the referee’s discretion and the severity of the violation). A subsequent yellow card in the game would equal a red card (disqualification) and a subsequent yellow card in the next (for example) four games would also be the same as a red card. And the idea there is that a red card means the individual at fault cannot play for (for example) four games.
I also think replay could be used in some of these situations. As a Bronco fan, I can’t tell you how many times Tim Tebow was face-masked and no call was made. While the face-masks were not as gruesome as the hits the Saints dished on Favre, they clearly constitute dangerous play.
We’ve been desensitized to the violence we see on the football field and frankly, vicious hits and dirty play don’t seem to be too different in college football. I don’t even know how basketball players can function as often as they hit the floor, let alone the intentional and high-speed collisions we see in football.