Now we know that the bounty program the St. Louis Rams' new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams installed while he was with the New Orleans Saints (among other teams) is a national preoccupation: Joe Posnanski has weighed in on SI.com with a long, intellectually consistent piece about how it needs to stop.â†µ
I agree with him, obviously; there's a difference between rough play being part of football and rough play being incentivized in such gruesomely specific ways—and by making the distinction so perfectly Gregg Williams has given us an unpleasant look into our own psyches as football fans. None of us asked the Saints to end Kurt Warner's career, but every high five after a particularly vicious hit produces the demand for more vicious hits, and now we have a chance to think about what that means.
Football traditionalists, I'm sorry: football changes, and the goal, however successful it's been, has always been to make the game less dangerous over time, from the moment the flying wedge was banned at the start of the 20th century. The moment football stops doing that—more specifically, the moment football stops giving its fans the impression it's doing that—is the moment it becomes boxing.