Tarkenton: Williams should be banned

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
11:20
AM ET
I just read one of the best pieces I’ve seen yet on the New Orleans Saints' bounty program. Ironically, it didn’t come from a professional writer.

It came from a former NFL quarterback.

You need to check out this column by Fran Tarkenton in The Wall Street Journal. It comes from a highly-informed perspective and I was delighted to see these two paragraphs:
Over the past few days, there have been many current players and NFL analysts saying this story is no big deal. Every team does this, they say.

That is ridiculous. Bounties are not part of the game in any way’.

I could not agree more with Tarkenton. I’ve heard the “no big deal’’ argument way too much and don’t buy it a bit. This is a huge deal; one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the NFL. Yes, football is a violent game and, yes, some players and coaches have pooled money to reward defensive players for things like coming up with interceptions and sacks. That’s no big deal.

But intentionally hurting opponents is a big deal. In my eyes, it borders on criminal and I’m pretty sure it opens the door to all sorts of civil litigation. And this all comes after commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL have spent the past few years making all sorts of noise about player safety.

Tarkenton’s strongest statement might come when he says former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should be permanently banned from the NFL. I can’t say I disagree with Tarkenton on that. Williams apparently was the ringleader of something despicable and the NFL needs to get rid of him.

Tarkenton also says New Orleans coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis deserve harsh penalties. No argument here. From what we’ve heard so far, I don’t think Payton and Loomis should be banned for life.

But I think they each should be suspended for a season and re-join the Saints next year. Or maybe they should resign and let the Saints get a clean start after this mess. Payton and Loomis are good at what they do and they can get other jobs in the future.

But I’m with Tarkenton on Williams. We should never see him again in the NFL.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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