Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, and his staff don't have a firm enough grasp on how to run their business. They need help from Congress. Lucky for them, Sen. Dick Durbin has raised his hand and volunteered.
Durbin, D-Ill., plans to convene a gathering of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee to investigate bounty systems in the NFL. This comes after the New Orleans Saints organization was hammered by Goodell for a bounty system that was in place for a time. Head coach Sean Payton got suspended without pay for a year, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely and the Saints' general manager was suspended six months. Goodell also fined the team half a million dollars and took away two second-round draft picks.
That's not enough for Durbin, who took to the Senate floor last week to say he wants to know what policies are in place in professional and college leagues to ensure “there's no place in athletics for these pay-to-maim bounties.” His committee also will look into whether federal sports bribery laws should be altered to include sports bounty programs.
What is it about these guys in Washington that compels them to meddle like this? Members of Congress in recent years have spent time exploring concussions in the NFL, demanded answers regarding the league's drug-testing policy, held high-profile hearings about steroids in baseball and raised a stink about how college football crowns its champion. The list goes on.
Now it's Durbin's turn. An Illinois colleague from the other side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, pointed out that continued high unemployment and the nation's $15.6 trillion debt were among the issues that demand real attention from Congress. “This is political grandstanding at its worst,” Walsh said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took to Twitter to blast Durbin: “#senate hasn't passed a #budget in almost 3 yrs but is going to have hearings on #bounties in #nfl?” Well said.