Overheard on CNN.com: Football fans ponder bounty scandal, paralyzed player
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is one of four players suspended for their roles in the "bountygate" scandal.
May 2nd, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Football fans ponder bounty scandal, paralyzed player

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

A few readers pointed out an interesting juxtaposition on CNN's homepage today, featuring one story about a paralyzed player receiving an honorary signing and another about an alleged bounty scheme originating within the New Orleans Saints. Both were the subject of much discussion.

Four players suspended in NFL bounty scandal

Four past or present New Orleans Saints players were suspended Wednesday by the National Football League for their roles in the "bountygate" scandal involving bonuses for trying to hurt opponents.

Quite a few commenters were outraged.

jescott418: "I think its clear that this was way more then just rough playing ball. A clear plan to hurt players to get key ones out of the game was admitted. That is not playing football. That is intent to hurt someone for gain."

A few people said they thought the Saints are getting off easy.

mongoo: "Anyone involved in this should have been banned for life. That would send a real message. This is just a slap on the wrist."

But ... other people were outraged for other reasons.

JSKop: "I don't think of them as Super Bowl contenders anyway. Their defense is awful. I am trying to think of my most-hated team in the NFL and it points to the Saints. I think every defensive player has it in their mind to want to hurt other players if they can. I think the penalty is kind of harsh, but that's my view. Defensive players are still going to go after players like (Michael) Vick or (Tony) Romo when they're slightly injured. They're like sharks that smell blood."

Readers talked about sportsmanship and the ferocity of football.

Whynot11: "There is a huge difference between trying to hurt someone and trying to injure someone. Breaking someone's leg with a late tackle or leading with the helmet is cowardly and weak. Laying down a clean open-field tackle with the force of a mac-truck and watching your victim retrieve his pants ... now that's a great feeling."

clemjones: "Exactly, every player is trying to destroy the other player on every play, if they aren't, they should be playing soccer or curling."

Rome wasn't billed in a day, or so the saying goes.

Crom2112: "Purposefully trying to injure other players for extra money? This is a 21st century USA sport, not 1st century Roman gladiatorial death matches. The ban should permanent to send a message to keep our sports clean."

Mwolve: "This was not uncommon a few decades ago. Going a little further back, Dick Butkus said he tried to tackle a man's spine by going through the front every time he hit a guy. However, times have changed as have rules. I think the NFL has been working to make defense unplayable, but bounty hunting to put guys out is wrong. Every defensive player should be out to hurt (cause pain and soreness) a guy, but that is very different than intentionally injuring him."

Quotations from Russell Crowe's 2000 film, Gladiator, made an appearance.

drpollack: "Are you not entertained? Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!"

ArtInChicago: "Maximus: Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome, Proximo. This is not it. This is not it!"

A few folks were "gated" out.

PT Cruiser: "How can we expounge the suffix -gate from our lexicon?"

clemjones: "Buy more beer?"

And then right above this story, something a bit more uplifting.

Buccaneers sign paralyzed Rutgers player Eric LeGrand

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now coached by ex-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, announced Wednesday they've signed the former defensive tackle who was partially paralyzed in a 2010 game to their 90-man off-season roster.

Commenters had a lot of positive words.

cmt1975: "I saw this hit right in front of me, as I was sitting three rows back at that game. A horrific day. Congrats to Coach Schiano and Eric LeGrand. Keepin' it classy!"

Melissa: "This is truly an inspiring story. There are still a few truly good-hearted people left on this earth after all. I feel that through his determination and prayer he will walk again. God still has a mission and plan for him. He WILL SUCCEED!"

Gracie: "I think this is a sweet act on coach. I know myself as well as other Rutgers season ticket holders were sad to see Greg leave, but to do something that sweet for a player needs to be given praise. Hopefully, once Eric graduates, Greg will be able to get him a 'paying' job with the Bucs in media. Best of luck to Eric, Greg, and the whole Bucs organization!"

This reader suggested the Buccaneers ought to consider going a bit further.

Loren: "Yeah, that's a nice thing to do, and I respect Coach Schiano for keeping in touch with the young man and for thinking of him this last draft. I'm glad that this young man has progressed as far as he has and that he stayed in college despite a devastating injury. They both seem to be class individuals. But I think most of the commentators here missed the part of the article that said the signing was 'honorary and no money is involved.' The really classy thing to have done would have been for the coach to try to convince the Bucs organization to actually sign this young man with a stipend-type salary, and then offer him an administrative or journalism-type position. If I was in that situation, the least I would do is donate a few thousand of my (sure to be) multimillion salary to his medical funds. But at least it's better than a wave goodbye."

Not everyone thought money needed to be exchanged, though.

Vance: "To those who say, there should be money involved and that this is just a crazy stunt, I beg to differ. This does two things. It shows the warrior spirit of an athlete and his coach. It will also give this young man some spotlight time which he can use to further help his cause. I hope he gets a broadcasting job and becomes a beacon for those in need of inspiration. Kudos all around."

Another was cynical about the situation.

truth1063: "I feel for this man and wish him the best, but part of me feels that it is just more of the "everyone gets a trophy" generation. Did they hand out cookies and Capri Suns after?"

Some parents responded and said they are thinking about the kids who play.

Fiona: "I hope parents hold this in their minds when they encourage their kids to pursue football seriously. If a strong and talented athlete can be so injured on a college football field, where the rules are more protective of players, Think of the possible damage at the NFL level. All those concussions are red flags that the sport is too violent."

Jo Holly: "As the mother of a junior football player this kind of injury is always in the back of my mind. But football is a brotherhood and The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proved that. Awesome!"

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. jester & jackal

    You know we could always put on a game of madden instead of having these guys hurt themselves for our entertainment.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      I personally just watch mma all of the brutality with out the lame game.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mickey1313

    With all they get paid, let them roid up, remove there pads, remove the roughing penalties, and let them slaughter each other.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greek American

    While MMA is good to watch, it will never become as popular as football. No sport will. Besides, you don't have to pay the 50+ dollars each week a game is on either. THAT is lame!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      No but you don't pay several hundreds to see it live. The fighters make way closer to what they deserve, and oh ya, mma doesn't create a breeding ground for bullies in high school. I know football will not be replaced, because Americans are stupid. Also as mma gains in popularity, it will go to cable eventually

      May 4, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
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    July 31, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |