“If we’re thinking about the common good, we’ve got to change our way of thinking,” said Dan Lebowitz, the executive director of Northeastern University’s Sport in Society program. “Maybe, because of this, a whistleblower might no longer be called a ‘snitch,’ but somebody who cares about the collective good of a system. That could be true not only in sport; our culture can be helped by people who stand up and make a statement.”
Lebowitz said the actions of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — not just in the Saints’ case, but in dealing with fines and suspensions for unnecessarily violent hits — have set a “tenor for the tenure of Roger Goodell, and that tenor is he’s going to establish a code of conduct for that league.”
But even that assessment engenders debate. Former safety Lawyer Milloy tweeted that “NOBODY is safe under” Goodell’s watch. Former Saints receiver Joe Horn told SiriusXM NFL Radio that Goodell “got too much damn power,” and called for Goodell to look into all 32 NFL teams for similar programs.
“He’s just not a fair commissioner,” Horn said. “All I’m saying is: He’s not fair. If you’re going to do something, do it across the board.”
The league, in the aftermath of the Saints’ case, has told all 32 teams to certify in writing by the end of the month that they do not have a bounty program in operation.
Horn is one of a dozen players who are suing the NFL, alleging teams routinely misused a painkiller before and during games, exacerbating some injuries, including concussions. Woody believes Goodell’s actions in the Saints’ case — a severe response to a practice the league considered dangerous — could inform how the NFL defends itself in such cases.
“Players want player safety,” Woody said. “That’s a concern. . . . When it’s time for both sides to go to court, this particular issue will come up. And then there could be lots of players who might be happier that people know about what went on. You got to look at the bigger picture. At the end of the day, you’re a player. The National Football League is bigger than you.”