Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has never been afraid to speak his mind, and on Thursday he went on ESPN 1500 radio in the Twin Cities and called for a lifetime ban of New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
According to the NFL, Vilma offered $10,000 to any player who knocked Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Commissioner Roger Goodell has punished the Saints, general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton, but he hasn't announced specific discipline for players involved in the Saints' bounty program and is awaiting a recommendation from the NFL Players Association.
"I think this is a spot," Kluwe said, "where the [NFLPA] definitely has to take a stand and say, 'Look, you put other guys' livelihoods in danger. You're jeopardizing other guys' chances to play.' Football is violent enough as it is. It's hard enough to stay healthy in the league and so by maliciously trying to hurt people they need to show, we need to show, that there's no place in the game for that kind of behavior."
Based on the Saints' abuse of Favre, Kluwe said he spoke with Vikings place-kicker Ryan Longwell during the game about the possibility of a bounty.
"But you don't want to believe that something like that is happening because you think better of the other players."
Kluwe's point is well taken, and Goodell has already surprised most observers with the harshness of his initial penalties. A lifetime ban might be unrealistic, but we've already learned our lesson about projecting Goodell's plans in this instance.