Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 9/14/12
If and when Jonathan Vilma meets with Roger Goodell, the Saints linebacker should ask the commissioner a simple question: What is more dangerous, a symbolic, thousand-dollar bounty system or the Baltimore Ravens opening the season playing four NFL games in 17 days? The elimination of bounties will not stop one NFL defensive player from curb-stomping an opposing player if given the opportunity. Goodell's New Orleans witch hunt won't make the game safer. Would the elimination of Thursday night football enhance safety? I suspect one day a smart lawyer will argue that it would. But that day isn't here just yet, so Thursday night the Bears and the Packers kicked off the NFL's season-long money grab. Year 7 of Thursday night football will stretch across the entire NFL reason rather than just the second half. The Ravens opened the 2012 season on "Monday Night Football" and will play their fourth game on Thursday, Sept. 27, completing as grueling a stretch of tackle football as we've ever seen. "The four games in 17 days is strictly for the money," Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard told me Thursday night. "We as players understand that so we do everything possible to take care of our bodies. It's on the coaches to understand what we go through and to give us a break because that's a lot of pounding in a short amount of time." It's difficult for the uninitiated to understand the physical toll a 60-minute football game takes on the body. I was a mediocre mid-major college football player. The physicality difference between high school football and mid-major college football is enormous. After a college football game, you spent the next 24 to 36 hours feeling like you'd been in a bad car accident. Inflammation overwhelms your body. I can only speculate about the gap between college football and the NFL, but I tend to believe the postgame pain and inflammation difference is just as pronounced as the leap from high school to college. I know that college and professional football players rely on anti-inflammatory drugs to get through the week. Four days is not enough recovery time. "Your body is sleepwalking until the second and maybe the third quarter," a recently retired NFL player told me Thursday. "Short week after a Monday night on the road is a nightmare. Watch Oakland this week. Travel to Miami after playing on 'MNF,' the Raiders gonna get killed." Some player is going to get severely hurt on a Thursday night. Those of us in the media don't like to talk about the stupidity and the exploitive nature of the NFL. The league butters all of our bread. We're addicted to its popularity, relevancy and traction. Sports fans don't care much either. We just want a good game to bet on. There's also a segment of the sports-fan population that doesn't recognize the humanity of the combatants. Or we're jealous. We think it's fine for the oversized animals to brutalize each other for our entertainment. We think it's a fair exchange for the money, fame and the adoration of young women. And there's another group of highly cynical fans who blame the players and their union for being dumb and cowardly enough to allow Goodell to pimp them out on Thursday nights. If the NFLPA isn't wise enough and strong enough to object to Goodell making Ray Lewis and Ed Reed walk the track four nights in 17 days, why should Joe Sports Fan care? It's going to take death, a serious injury or a lawsuit to stop the NFL's desire to televise live games seven days a week, six months a year. If a team can play four games in 17 days, why can't teams play an 18-game regular season? But Gregg Williams is evil because he instructed his defensive players to attack the head. Really? What's more dangerous, deeds or tough talk, a brutal schedule or a bounty system that rewards you for what you were going to do anyway? The vilification of the Saints and Goodell's hypocrisy infuriate me. Thursday night football endangers the health of far more NFL players than some flimsy bounty system Vilma participated in. Goodell earns more money than Vilma. Goodell could serve as commissioner for another 10 to 15 years. Vilma is staring at the end of his career. But Vilma is the guy who is fighting to avoid having a year's salary stripped from him so Goodell can continue the charade he cares about the health and safety of NFL players. I wish Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, etc., had the guts to stand up for Vilma and demand that Goodell end his witch hunt. If the offensive stars supported Vilma, it would do more to create solidarity among all NFL players, end bounties and promote safety than all of Goodell's helmet-to-helmet flags and whatnot. The players need to protect themselves. Goodell and the owners aren't going to do it.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Isaiah Thomas led charge against Kevin Love

Baker Mayfield addresses Johnny Manziel comparisons

2018 NBA All-Star Game reserves announced

Report: Rob Gronkowski in good spirits, Patriots optimistic he'll play in Super Bowl LII

Astros' Jon Singleton receives 100-game suspension

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jalen Rose: ‘Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio’

WWE fires Enzo Amore in wake of rape accusation

NFL wants Raiders to sign Kaepernick after Rooney ruling?

Jay Feely: Gisele tried to get me to convince Tom Brady to retire

Raiders to make a run at Le’Veon Bell if he becomes free agent?

Jerry Jones: Jason Garrett is not on the hot seat

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

Nine reasons why the Eagles will beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII

The surprising failure of Jason Kidd

How things have changed since last Eagles-Pats Super Bowl

The Chicago Bulls' future is on the clock

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

The 'More things change...' quiz

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

Oldest players to ever be on Super Bowl rosters

The 'More things change...' quiz

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Players with the most Super Bowl appearances

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker