In the before time, there were bounties in the NFL. Lots of them, and it was a dirty little secret that wasn’t so secretive at all, yet it still wasn’t widely acknowledged until last night. Thanks, Cris Carter.
Known mostly for his time as a Viking, Carter’s 16-year career started in Philadelphia, and he was with the Eagles during the infamous “Bounty Bowl” in 1989. Last night on ESPN Radio the subject of bounties came up, because that’s mandated sports talk fodder now in mid May. Carter did more than just admit to participating in a bounty program: he threw his own money down, and specifically on former linebacker Bill Romanowski.
“Bill Romanowski told me he was going to take me out before a game. He said ‘I’m gonna end your career, Carter.’ No problem…. I put a little change on his head before the game. Protect myself. Protect my family. That’s the league that I grew up in.”
Romanowski’s response to Carter today during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show came in angry salvo form, at which point we abruptly reached the agree to disagree conclusion. While also reminding us that he’s still a very crazy man, Romanowski said Carter entirely fabricated his bounty, and that he didn’t threaten to end the wide receiver’s career.
“It is absolute fiction. If he could read my mind in pre-game, yeah, maybe he had it right. But I didn’t talk before games. I was in the zone. I was focused. I was thinking everything I had to do to help our defense, to help our team win a football game. That’s all that mattered.”
Even if he either didn’t say anything or simply doesn’t recall saying anything, it seems Romanowski thinks a simple threat during a football game carries little meaning. The gamesmanship and testosterone that constantly percolates around the football field leads to pretty much everyone being threatened by everyone.
“I’ve gotten threatened in every football game I have ever played in. And I’ve threatened (someone) in every football game I’ve ever played in.”
So good, that’s settled.
But with the Interwebs bubbling over a mini feud that’s now only slightly above schoolyard bickering and hearsay, there was another little shot of common sense in Romanowski’s comments that resonates given the events of the past week. It came when the conversation inevitably drifted to concussions and head trauma, the other unavoidable topic of the day.
Romanowski said there wasn’t a game he played in when he “didn’t see stars numerous times.” That’s the reality football players accept, and it’s the same reality that Osi Umenyiora spoke of yesterday.
The NFL boldly sent an email to over 3,200 players on Tuesday, and in it was the outline of a study which examined players who played at least five seasons between 1959 and 1988. In short, the conclusion of the research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was that despite the common perception generated by reception tragic events, the players studied had a lower rate of death than the average man who didn’t play professional football, meaning that NFL players live longer than the general population.
Those optimistic numbers make no mention of a players’ quality of life, though, or the mental bruising from repeated head wounds that lingers long into retirement.
Living long becomes far less desirable if living healthy is difficult.