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Thread: Bernie: Goodell shows no fear
Bernie: Goodell shows no fear
Bernie Miklasz Thursday
March 22, 2012
The Rams will be fine without defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Yes, they'd be better off with Williams working at Rams Park, but it's not as if the suspended coach is taking his defensive philosophy and playbook with him as he enters an undetermined period of exile.
The Williams defense remains in place, to be installed and taught by Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and his assistants. The Williams defense doesn't vanish now that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended Williams indefinitely for his lead role in running the notorious bounty program in New Orleans.
In hitting Williams, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, Saints GM Mickey Loomis, and Saints assistant Joe Vitt and the New Orleans franchise with severe penalties, Goodell reaffirmed his status as the finest and most powerful commissioner in professional sports.
After seeing Goodell take down the miscreants and impose penalties that will probably debilitate the Saints franchise beyond the 2012 season, do you think NFL coaches and players will take the commissioner's pro-safety initiative seriously from this point on?
Do you think that everyone in the NFL understands that Goodell is entrenched and unwavering in his serious effort to protect players from the vulnerability of dirty, cowardly, cheap-shot hits?
Goodell cleaned up the corners Wednesday.
Hopefully this will change the NFL forever, and in a positive way. There's no way to eliminate concussions, but the league can certainly reduce the number of head injuries by cracking down on gratuitous violence and intentional, premeditated attempts to injure an opponent. In particular, NFL coaches will be running scared from now on. Even the mere rumor of a bounty system could incur the wrath of an angry Goodell.
Goodell also settled two questions about his leadership:
1. We know that he hasn't hesitated to go after head-hunting players with fines and suspensions. But would the tough-guy commissioner hold coaches and executives to the same standards of conduct?
Goodell obliterated the skepticism Wednesday with a year's suspension for Payton, an eight-game suspension for Loomis, a six-game suspension for Vitt, and by kicking Williams out of the league for at least a full year.
The bounties, alone, were a serious offense. But these incredibly arrogant men compounded their misdeeds by foolishly lying to Goodell's investigators in an attempt to cover up their wrongdoing. Judge Goodell was not pleased. He demonstrated that he'll stand up to coaches and executives with even more force than he imposes on players.
2. Would Goodell bring the hammer down even at the risk of angering the wealthy individuals who own NFL franchises? Goodell works for the owners, who reportedly will pay him $20 million annually in his new contract. But keeping the owners happy didn't seem to enter the commissioner's mind when he took a bazooka to the Saints.
I don't imagine Saints owner Tom Benson is pleased to lose his head coach for a season, his GM for half the season, give up two second-round draft choices and pay a $500,000 fine. I don't think Rams owner Stan Kroenke is thrilled to lose his new defensive coordinator for at least one season.
Message: Don't mess with Goodell, no matter how powerful you think you are. (There were a couple of inconsistencies in Goodell's ruling that bother me; I'll discuss them in an upcoming blog or column.)
Let's return to Rams Park, where Fisher was braced for Williams' penalty. The head coach took the news calmly, as he should have. The Williams defense is the same attacking defense that Fisher has used for nearly two decades in the NFL. Fisher and his assistants can install it and teach it.
Though they're close friends personally, Williams only served four seasons (1997-2000) as Fisher's defensive coordinator at Tennessee. Fisher wasn't handing out any titles Wednesday, but he has an appealing in-house option in assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, a respected defensive mind.
The Rams can sort things out and work around Williams' absence. But I'm still sorting through some of Fisher's comments during Wednesday's news conference.
I was confused when Fisher said he wouldn't have hired Williams if he'd known about Williams' involvement in the New Orleans' scheme, or the looming punishment from the NFL.
If Fisher wouldn't have hired Williams had he known about these circumstances in advance — then why would Fisher consider employing Williams again, now that he DOES know what happened?
Unlike some of the fake tough-guy grandstanders out there, I don't believe the Rams should fire Williams. Fisher wants an edgy and nasty defense and brought in Williams for a reason. It wasn't because Williams could lead a really swell sing-along in team meetings.
The Rams may have not known about the New Orleans bounties — but they knew Williams was no angel. He is who they thought he was. To fire Williams now would be a phony, hypocrisy-filled move.
Why would the Rams bring Williams back if Goodell reinstates him? I can think of a few reasons.
The Fisher-Williams friendship is a factor. Williams has been a successful coordinator who cultivates the kind of defensive mindset that Fisher wants. That's also a factor.
I'm also assuming Fisher has empathy, figuring that Williams deserves a second chance if Williams cooperates with the league, helps the league educate players on this serious issue and convinces the league that he's a reformed coach.
Oh, and there's something else.
When I asked Fisher why his friend Williams had lost his way by behaving so terribly in New Orleans, the coach offered a lengthy and cryptic response:
"There's a great deal of information out there that we will never know," Fisher said. "And so I can't really comment on the specifics of that, and place blame on anybody. This was a very extensive investigation. And there's a lot out there that I would assume will not be disclosed.
"So I think I have to reserve comment on that. Because I know that never at any time as far as I've been with him (did Williams) disrespect this game, from the standpoint of you try to hurt someone on purpose.
"So I think there's a lot out there that probably will be locked up in a drawer someplace."
Does Coach Fisher know something that we don't?
Does Fisher believe Williams ran the bounty program at the behest of someone in a higher position in New Orleans? Do the Rams think Williams was scapegoated in some way?
We may never know what Fisher and the Rams believe about Williams' culpability in this.
Actually, we probably will eventually know what the Rams are really thinking here.
If the NFL lifts Williams' suspension before the 2013 season, Fisher and the Rams will decide if they want Williams to work for them.
That important decision will reveal their true feelings. And we'll finally be able to decipher the message contained in Fisher's mysterious answer.
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Re: Bernie: Goodell shows no fear
1) If it weren't against league rules, there is NOTHING wrong with an incentive based system that awards players for interceptions, sacks, special teams heroics and the like. Thousands of high school and college programs throughout the country employ this tactic which is a healthy motivating tool for players. However, there is EVERYTHING wrong with encouraging someone to purposely injure an opposing player.
2) It's amazing how many people will lie and end up compounding a problem rather than admit wrongdoing and limit the damage. Arrogance and stupidity know no bounds.
3) There isn't a person on this board or elsewhere worth his or her weight who wouldn't support a friend if they were accused of something. There also isn't a person out there with an ounce of smarts who out of necessity wouldn't distance themselves from that same friend once things got to a certain point and their guilt became obvious. This is exactly what Jeff Fisher is doing with Gregg Williams. Let's not overthink this.
4) One thing Gregg Williams should NOT apologize for is his defensive philosophy- which is to have a frenzied, blitzing, aggressive mindset in pressuring the opponent and flying to the football. And by the same token, the Rams should not stray from that same approach in his absence but instead embrace it- it wins ball games.
5) These decisions made by the commissioner are unprecedented and will change the game. And while it is fashionable to "knock the boss", anyone who questions his commitment to player safety simply isn't paying attention. The league is simply too popular and generates too much money to allow wild west antics out there and prevent people from seeing their star players due to injury. The players are too big and too powerful and must be protected from themselves. So the James Harrisons of the world can bellyache all they want- the commissioner's directives aren't changing anytime soon.
Re: Bernie: Goodell shows no fear
Re: Bernie: Goodell shows no fearIf it weren't against league rules, there is NOTHING wrong with an incentive based system that awards players for interceptions, sacks, special teams heroics and the like. Thousands of high school and college programs throughout the country employ this tactic which is a healthy motivating tool for players. However, there is EVERYTHING wrong with encouraging someone to purposely injure an opposing player.
If the Saints would have stopped once they where asked if this was going on... this would have been squashed... but they kept doing it.
Re: Bernie: Goodell shows no fear
In life, it is frequently the case that the coverup, rather than the act itself, causes the most problems. Everyone makes mistakes. Man up and take responsibility for them rather than compounding the problem by lying about it. I do my best to drive that lesson into the heads of my kids.
Ramming speed to all
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