If you are a fan of football, even casually, you had to be shocked and saddened by the horrific news that Junior Seau is now deceased. It's weird even typing the sentence. Junior Seau. One of the toughest men in the league in the league is gone. Even more unsettling is the news that it is most likely suicide.
If Seau isn't tough enough to handle life after the NFL, who is? His isn't the first suicide and, unfortunately, probably won't be the last. Even more telling is the fact that he reportedly shot himself in the chest. This seems to mirror the suicide of Dave Duerson who wanted to kill himself in a way that preserved his brain. He wanted his brain to be studied.
I certainly hope that this thought doesn't come too soon after the tragedy, but with the Saints players (current and former) getting their suspension on the same day, I couldn't help but connect the two stories...Listening to the response of the Saints players, and others around the league, one could be led to believe that their punishment is unfairly harsh. Vilma has vowed to fight the suspension with everything he has and the NFLPA has also done some saber rattling with regards to lawyers and lawsuits.
Whether you think the discipline is warranted or not, the tragic death of Junior Seau probably signaled that any appeal will be unsuccessful. How can these players argue that targeting other players for injury (ESPECIALLY "head shots") is merely part of the game? Great players, and more importantly, great PEOPLE are dying at their own hands because they have been irrevocably damaged. The deaths of Duerson, Easterling, Seau, and others, in conjunction with the myriad of permanent injuries, lawsuits, and developing science about concussions removes the "It isn't a big deal" argument.
They also can't argue that they didn't participate. It is pretty clear-cut that they put money into the pot. There is even questionable audio during games about "getting my money". Finally, all you have to do is look at the cheap shots and you can see that there was something more there than intense football. Above all else, the one thing that will seal the fate of these suspended players?
Ironically - Greg Williams.
Williams is suspended indefinitely. He has to be BETTER than a Boy Scout if he ever wants anything to do with the league again. It isn't hard to imagine that he might have a "come to Jesus" meeting with the NFL lawyers where the message is clear: come clean with names and details, or say good-bye to your career. Williams will have no choice but to roll over and become the star witness against those he coached.
I LOVE football and I'm certainly no Saints fan, but I'm not enjoying the Bounty Scandal. This has moved beyond sport and has become a truly life-and-death situation. Let's hope that these suspensions are upheld and that a clear message is sent.
I'm tired of watching NFL greats die because they were NFL greats. Rest in peace, Junior. Hopefully we learn from this tragedy and do our best to make sure this doesn't happen again.