“I swear to Christ, the next time we cross paths, I’m gonna flatten that cocksucker and make him hurt.” I sat crouched and waited for him to run near me. As soon as he thought he was past me, and, coincidentally, once his guard was down, I sprung like a mousetrap and buried my shoulder into his solar plexus and drove him into the hard ground to finish the point. He coughed up the ball, then a bunch of air and mucus. I didn’t regret it. And fuck him. Let him cough.

You know who thought that, and then carried out those semi-despicable actions? It wasn’t someone angling for $1,000 extra dollars at the urging of his coach. It was me. During a game of full contact dodgeball. For fun. In gym class. In high school. And why? Because he had the audacity to ping one right in my grill, which was fully within the rules, and then laugh about it with his friends. I felt slighted. I felt embarrassed. I needed to get my pride back. I needed vengeance. So I lit him up good.

Last week we all learned that noted dickhead Gregg Williams, former defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, put bounties of usually $1,000 or so on opposing players, and rewarded his players for injuring them. The usual gang of idiots predictably began frantically waving their arms about the outrage of it all and the thumb sucking Greek chorus of sportswriters denounced these dreadful actions for pissing in the sacred lake of purity that is the National Football League. Chief asshole Roger Goodell has been particularly strident in his denouncements. And what a load of shit it all was.

Which is not to excuse Gregg Williams. He’s a meathead football coach who was dumb enough to audibly and deliberately tell his players to hurt their opponents when there was 100% chance of that information becoming public at some point and resulting in what I’m sure will be his permanent dismissal from the most profitable professional sports enterprise in the history of earth. Fuck Gregg Williams. He gets what he deserves.

But to pretend that this premeditated viciousness somehow is markedly different from the game the majority of this country loves is absurd, and laughably self-delusional. Here are clips from the pieces I most enjoyed reading about this, and encourage you to check them out in their entirety:

From Charles P. Pierce of Grantland: “The entire existence of the NFL — and of football at any level, for all of that — rests on whether or not the game can keep fooling itself, and its paying fan base, that it is somehow superior to boxing and to the rest of our modern blood sports. That’s how it gets the upmarket ad revenue that is still leery of, say, those barbarians who compete in MMA. That’s what keeps the luxury boxes filled with executives from BMW and Sony, and not with guys peddling cheap legal services and discount gold.”

From Buzz Bissinger of The Daily Beast: “How can Goodell say he cares about player safety when he is a strong advocate of an 18-game season? The argument for it, that teams would only play two exhibition games instead of four, thereby keeping the net number of games the same, is ridiculous. Starters don’t play entire exhibition games, particularly the last two, because they are meaningless… If those last two exhibition games become regular games, starters will play the entirety. With the expansion of the schedule, which greedy owners and Goodell want because of their financial piggery, players will be subjected to the potential of injury and long-term harm from football more than ever.”

From Nate Jackson (former Denver Bronco) of Deadspin: “Did Gregg Williams, by allegedly offering up cash for violent hits, make the game more dangerous? Not any more than the Pop Warner coach who grabs a kid by his facemask and tells him he hits like a sissy. Not any more than an ESPN correspondent who speculates about Michael Vick’s readiness to return to action following a concussion. And certainly not any more than Roger Goodell, who regularly implies that he can make the game safe by changing the rules.”

From Drew Magary of Deadspin, who absolutely dismantles Gregg Easterbrook, whom he refers to as “a haughty dipshit” This’ll be Love Lounge style with Magary’s words in italics, and Easterbook’s in regular font:

“Now, are you prepared for a ridiculous analogy? Breathe deep.

Michael Vick …

Hoo boy …

… went to prison for nearly two years for harming dogs, which he should not have done. Williams offered players money to harm people. [...] [I]f prison was the fair punishment for causing harm to animals, the punishment Williams faces must be severe.

Michael Vick KILLED dogs. Like he literally murdered them in cold blood. He drowned them, choked them, stuck cattle prods up their butts, had them rape other dogs, etc. For THAT, he went to prison for two years. It’s basically like saying “Jeffrey Dahmer killed and ate 47 people, which he should not have done. Gregg Williams also did something he should not have done, and according to the Brookings Penal Code, the sentence for Doing Something You Should Not Have Done is a minimum of 2 years.”

We used to be fans of Easterbrook, even writing in Happy Friday #74: “Even if you don’t like football, Gregg Easterbrook tackles such a breadth of topics, TMQ is a must-read each week for gems like the last two links. Gregg gets the CJS Stamp of Approval that I just made up.”

I certainly regret writing that now, given what a pompous, deluded jackass Easterbrook has time and again revealed himself to be.

The point is this: Football is a dangerous sport. You can either accept that, or you can’t. But no more of this foolishness about making the game safer. Nate Jackson reminds us that “in a game where 100% of the players get injured, why does it matter to us how they get injured?” Football is not elegant, nor was it ever. It’s brutal, it’s barbaric, and it’s why we like it. Either deal with that or stop watching.

The reason I turned on football the first time in 2007 was because I watched Kevin Everett of the Bills get paralyzed in Week 1 against the Broncos. Gus Johnson used his serious voice and everyone got super solemn for about 5 minutes. Not half a quarter later, Johnson practically jizzed his pants at some big hit, which made me feel like he either totally lacked perspective, was a disingenuous gasbag, or both.

That’s why I get so upset watching morons like Bill Plaschke bloviate about “sanctioned evil” and Goodell pretend to care about player safety when he wants them to work more games for less money. It’s such double-talking, nonsensical horseshit, I feel like I’m losing my mind.

So the next time some skidmark at your job starts flapping his yap and regurgitates what he heard from some halfwit on sports talk radio, remind him that Gregg Williams didn’t make his favorite sport more violent. He only reminded you of how violent it already is.

edagger@crujonessociety.com