The halftime essays from Bob Costas have become a staple Sunday Night Football on NBC. This year, the handiwork of Costas and Aaron Cohen (who has the misfortune of sitting next to me in the viewing room at 30 Rock every Sunday) has secured a nomination for the Dick Schaap Writing Award, to be presented at the 2012 Sports Emmys.
And so it’s fitting that, on one of the craziest offseason days in NFL history, Costas presented an extemporaneous essay. Last night on NBC SportsTalk, Costas shared his views on the punishment imposed by Commissioner Roger Goodell against those non-players responsible for the three-year bounty debacle.
For those of you who can’t watch or won’t sit through 15 seconds of pre-roll advertising, here’s what Bob said.
“I want to stand up and cheer for Roger Goodell.
“Now, the penalty to the players, which may be a little trickier because he may face some resistance from the Players Association; but the penalty for the players will be forthcoming, we are led to believe in about a week, and I think they will also be appropriately severe.
“He has made an important statement today. And anyone who thinks that the Saints are scapegoats because of the present atmosphere in the NFL, maybe their timing was off, but they deserve every bit of this. They are blatantly guilty of something that has no place whatsoever in sports.
“And it goes beyond the idea of bounties. If people interpret this as, ‘Well no one will ever have any bounties anymore’ at least not anything that can be traced, Roger Goodell is sending a message about the culture of the game, about the celebration of a kind of violence, a kind of brutality that goes above and beyond anything that reasonable people should accept.
“It’s understood within football, whether there are bounties or not, that many players, not all, maybe not most, that many players are either indifferent to whether or not they injure opponents or actually take pride and glee in injuring opponents. There is no question about it. This is not isolated to the New Orleans Saints.
“The NFL as it is presently constituted is a great, great game that’s exciting in many ways, interesting in many ways, and clearly is America’s most popular sport. It also has a serious problem because it is fundamentally brutal in a way that reasonable people should no longer accept.
“And Roger Goodell is trying to deal with that, both (a) because it’s the right thing to do, and I believe he is a good man, but (b) because he’s also a businessman and he knows that with all this litigation out there, and more coming, he’s got to position the league as standing as reasonably as it can against excessive and gratuitous violence.”
Asked by host Russ Thaler for an opinion on what Goodell should do if it’s determined that other teams engaged in similar conduct, Bob used terminology that may be more familiar to those of you who frequent this establishment: “Screw ’em . . . same thing,” Costas said. “Hit them with the same thing.”
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