Originally posted on Obsessed With Sports  |  Last updated 3/22/12
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Sean Payton is gone for an entire season. Gregg Williams gets a Mike Vick-esq “indefinite” suspension. These are big-time penalties. That much is obvious. The hammer has been dropped.

I want to go a different direction with this, though. I want to talk about the NFL players.

The last major on-field, organizational incident involved the New England Patriots. That would be spy-gate. NFL Players are quick to jump down the Patriots throats for spy-gate. That’s fine. No need to go there right now. Players also hate when fans treat them like meat. OK, lets go there. For example; take the Arian Foster fantasy football comments from this past fall.

Foster found it inappropriate for fans to only care about his well-being in the scope of fantasy football. Well, Arian, this is the bed the players have made for themselves.

In the aftermath of bouty-gate, every player that doesn’t want to be treated like an animal has a chance to stand-up and make it known. Tell the world how unacceptable the Saints actions were. Tell us how the NFLPA is comprised of are hard working, well-trained, professional athletes. Because for every player that decides to just look the other way, or take the next step and back Payton and the Saints, more humanity seeps from the league.

When players back the Saints actions, it affects the way fans see other aspects of the game. Take the 18-game regular season for instance. I no longer care that 18 games is “too much” for the players body to handle. If the players are deliberately trying to injure each other, why would I care if a couple more games are tacked on? I don’t.

The NFL front office has made it clear that player safety is priority number one. Sure, it’s largely only for selfish reasons. They do not want to be facing massive law suits claiming they were negligent. But, that said, they are doing a good job of making everyone aware of their safety initiatives. This continued yesterday with the unprecedented suspensions that were doled out.

Until the NFL players take this approach of sportsmanship and safety first, we will feel free to root as if we are watching a dog fight.

A large number of players knew this was going on. It’s likely that a number of other teams institute similar systems. This makes it even harder for those players who do speak out against the Saints actions to be seen as genuine.

I agree with the harsh suspensions give out by the NFL. However, it has little to do with player safety. I find it difficult to care about something that, based upon their actions, the players do not seem to care about either.

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