By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Five short years ago, the NFL had a full-fledged bounty “scandal” on its hands, having seemingly caught the New Orleans Saints for having a pay-to-injure program. Commissioner Roger Goodell came down harshly, suspending the head coach, defensive coordinator, general manager, assistant head coach, and four players for their roles in the program. He also took two second-round picks from the Saints.READ MORE: Connecticut Becomes 1st State To Make All Prison Phone Calls Free
The players eventually appealed their suspensions and won, but the message from the NFL was clear: bounty programs are not to be tolerated.
Fast-forward to 2016, and star cornerback Josh Norman may have peeled back the curtain on a different — but noteworthy — type of targeting.
In an interview with ESPN The Magazine, Norman discussed his history with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, a relationship that turned quite violent on the field last December. Though neither player got ejected, Beckham earned a suspension for diving helmet-first into the head of Norman.
It’s not something Norman’s forgotten, and according to him, there are other players in the league who will seek retribution.READ MORE: 5 Rescued From The Water After Boat Overturns Near Marion
“People from around the league were coming up to me afterward and saying, ‘He does that crap all the time.’ He lost so much respect from people for that little tantrum,” Norman told ESPN. “I’ve already got a couple people telling me, ‘OK, I’ve got a hit out on him.’ It’s going to be rough for him this year. And he brought it on himself.”
Obviously, this is not Bountygate 2.0, but it’s easy to find some similarities in the two semi-organized plans to injure opposing players. And after such a comment like that goes public, the NFL has some responsibility to do what’s necessary to prevent gratuitous hits on a star wide receiver like Odell Beckham. If the league does nothing, only to later see Beckham suffer a serious concussion from one of these players who might “have a hit out on” him, it will not look good for a league that is eager to present a positive image with regard to player safety.
Of course, in terms of recourse, the NFL theoretically has very little … unless the league forces Norman to submit to an NFL investigation, in which he’ll either be forced to name names or face an indefinite suspension for damaging the integrity of the game.
But that would never happen under Goodell’s watch, would it?
Unfortunately for Norman, he may not have helped himself by saying this about Mr. Goodell: “I get that he makes the owners money, but literally anyone could do that [job]. A dog could. He’s a dog in a suit. … Horrible. He’s straight horrible.”
Goodell’s actions are so inconsistent that it’s difficult to forecast what he’ll do, but in any event, Norman may want to keep an eye on his mailbox. There could be some correspondence in some form on its way from Park Avenue.MORE NEWS: 4 Your Community: Boston Pride