Saints should get the death penalty

Originally Published: April 11, 2012
By Art Garfamudis | Page 2

Roman HarperGetty imagesIf Page 2's curmudgeon had his way, Roman Harper and the entire Saints roster would sit out in 2012.

Editor's note: Art Garfamudis originally wrote for Page 2 in 2008, before he retired to dedicate himself to preparing his safe house for any number of civilization-threatening crises. The depletion of his potable water, dried food and ammunition have lured him out of retirement to again present his unique perspective on the sports world.

Like suspended Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, I also have an opinion about former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. After all, Castro's shoddy economic planning makes Cuba a must-see destination for nostalgia-addled fans of classic cars. And, because he managed to stick around so long -- the thing about him that so delighted Guillen -- Castro remained a punching bag for commie bashers who missed the old Cold War boogeymen. Long after his fellow commies were overthrown or died off, there was Fidel, a living testament as to why communism never worked in the first place.

But I digress. Castro and Guillen are not why I appear before you today. No, today I am addressing something much closer to the heart and soul of America.

Recently, I suggested the Saints shouldn't be allowed to pick their own interim coach while Sean Payton is suspended in the wake of the Maiming-for-Bucks scandal. I realize now that I didn't go far enough. Neither has the NFL. Yes, they've suspended Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis and had the fortitude to deny their appeals. Yes, they've given former assistant coach Gregg Williams an indefinite trip to the showers and have also taken away Saints draft picks. These are good measures, sure, but isn't there something more they could have done?

My answer is "yes."

If the NFL wants to strangle the bounty hunting problem in the crib, they must take it to another level of punishment. They need to send a message around the league that is so strong, nobody will ever even utter the word "bounty" in a locker room again. They need to let the players know that, while they're still risking their physical well-being by going on the field, it won't be on account of someone getting paid extra to dismantle them.

So, what could be more extreme than the punishments already given?

The Death Penalty.

That's right. I am strongly urging the NFL should take a page from the NCAA manual and suspend the New Orleans Saints football operations for a period of one season. They need to give them the SMU treatment. Make them gone. Off the grid. Stadium dark. No draft picks on April 26 through 28. No camp this summer. No exhibition games. No regular-season games.

For one year, they basically cease to exist.

Think that will get the message across that the NFL values the well-being of its players? I do. (As to what happens to the NFL schedule and the Saints players themselves during the one-year hiatus, I'm not sure. I'm a big-picture guy. Someone else can figure out the details.)

Now I know what you're thinking: "Art, aren't you supposed to be one of these don't-tread-on-me types? Why are you getting all law and order on the Saints all of a sudden?"

Yeah, I am one of those guys, but I'm also a rule-of-law kind of guy. (It gets real confusing in my head sometimes, let me tell you.) Besides, my feelings on interference from a centralized ruling body have more to do with the government -- not a private enterprise like the NFL. Private enterprises need to do what they must to protect their assets. In the NFL, talented players are prime assets -- and that goes double for quarterbacks. A team putting a price on the head of a quarterback is doing a great disservice to the league as a whole in financial terms. They are impeding commerce, and is there any greater sin in a capitalist society than impeding commerce? No, there is not; and those who do must pay the ultimate price which is, in this case, not getting to play for a year.

Speaking of the government, let's consider this: Back in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt intervened in college football in response to a large number of on-field deaths that year. He demanded new rules be enacted to make the game safer for players. Now, while we might not mind a Teddy Roosevelt sticking his nose into the NFL if he were alive today, we'd certainly mind it if our current Congress and Senate started forming committees to investigate how the NFL conducts itself. Come on, you've seen these people in action. Is this who we want meddling in the affairs of professional football?

I'll answer for you: No, it isn't. That's why the NFL needs to snuff this fire right now -- and not with the gentle smothering of suspensions, but with the unmistakable stomping of the death penalty.

Artemis Arthur Garfamudis originally studied typing at the Miss DuPrix School of Business on Route 22 in North Plainfield, N.J. He has since taken several refresher typing courses. It is with great pride that he types all his own columns.

Follow Art Garfamudis on Twitter @artgarfamudis ... if you dare.

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