This was not a good week in sports.
Not only did my Mets get swept by the pathetic Houston Astros and the Knicks season will likely be over Wednesday (although it was great to see them win one), but we saw the passing of a great linebacker and man, what may be the end of an all-time great closer, and a Saints season that gets dimmer and dimmer.
|Suspended Sain Jonathan Vilma and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams|
I’ll start with the Saints. On Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended star linebacker Jonathan Vilma the entire 2012-2013 season without pay. Vilma is the anchor and leader of a so-so Saints defense and his presence will definitely be missed. Vilma has played in New Orleans for four seasons now and in the three seasons where he played 16 games (he only played in 11 games last year) has had no less than 100 tackles, one sack, and one interception.
Goodell also suspended former Saint and current Green Bay Packer defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove eight games, defensive end Will Smith four games, and current Cleveland Brown linebacker Scott Fujita three games.
It’s hard to have really strong reactions to something like this because we’ve never seen anything like the bounty situation before. I don’t mind that Goodell has given himself the role of disciplinarian. He is doing what he feels he has to do and if that means ruining the Saints, a franchise he has supported through all their tough years, than that’s what he has to do.
The biggest problem with handing out such stiff penalties is the evidence. The league said its investigation showed "a significant number of players participated" in the bounties – by ponying up cash or collecting it – but noted that "the players disciplined participated at a different and more significant level." In a game as violent as football, it would seem that identifying a single player or players playing to injure would be nearly impossible. A lot of people would point to this video of Kurt Warner gettingthe tar knocked out of him by Bobby McCray as evidence of the bounty program, but how is that much different than Sean Taylor destroying a punter in a pro bowl game?
The players plan on appealing the suspension, but won’t win considering they appeal is heard by Goodell, the same man who handed out the punishment. It just seems confusing that the league can identify four specific players who participated in the bounty program more aggressively than others.
There was more sad news that came out of the NFL when the death of Junior Seau was announced. Seau, the fifth overall pick in the 1990 draft, never disappointed on the field. Known for his incredible passion and friendly personality, Seau played 13 seasons for the Chargers, three for the Miami Dolphins, and four for the New England Patriots before finally retiring in 2010. He was a 10-time all pro, 12-time pro bowler, and was named to the 1990 all-decade team.
|Junior Seau was always known for his intense energy an enthusiasm|
Seau’s death was ruled a suicide and it could be interesting to see what role, if any, football had. As its been noted, Seau is divorced and hasn’t had the most successful career off the football field with some failed businesses. There is nothing more that can be said other than the world lost a great football player and a better, more enthusiastic ma. Rest in peace Junior Seau, father of three, dead at the young age of 43.
Mariano Rivera has redefined the word “ageless”. Year after year, Rivera dominates professional baseball players with one pitch, his cutter. In 18 years (all with the Yankees) Rivera has a career ERA of 2.21 and has 608 saves, more than any other closer in MLB history.
Rivera’s career is now in jeopardy after tearing his right ACL shagging fly balls during batting practice. It would really be a shame if Rivera ended a brilliant career because he was playing Torii Hunter during BP. Rivera says he plans on coming back, and I hope he does, but at 43 off an ACL injury I do wonder how effective he might be. He is a guy that even if you don’t like the Yankees or don’t like him, you respect everything he’s done. It’s not fair to criticize Rivera for the injury itself however. The Baseball Tonight crew, many of whom were former major leaguers, said that there are some pitchers who play 3rd base during batting practice to keep themselves sharp. Rivera was likely doing something that is common between pitchers.
This week we lost an all-time great in Junior Seau, a huge blow to the Saints season, and maybe the end of a first-ballot hall of fame career. While there certainly was some good (I think?), it’s hard to think of at the moment.