Debating Another NFL Injury Bounty?

Some would argue that the collision between Eric Berry and Stevie Johnson doesn’t even come close to the horrifying bounty system that allegedly existed in New Orleans. Others say there’s more to the issue than meets the eye. We think everyone is entitled to their opinion if they have all the information. So here goes…

Last year, on the tenth anniversary of September 11, the NFL opened its season with an incredible matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1pm. A solid day of football was the perfect remedy for a reflective nation. But was anyone really watching the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs playing at Arrowhead? Probably not many. Then it’s no wonder that Berry’s season-ending knee injury flew under the radar.

During the first quarter, Chiefs’ Safety, Eric Berry, was running after the ball, hoping to make a big play. Bills’ wide receiver Stevie Johnson came hurling at his knee from a side angle. Neither man touched the ball and Berry didn’t immediately get up. At first, he thought it was just a minor bang-up. After a few days, his season was over. The extent of his knee damage was simply too great. The Bills went on to win that matchup with the day’s largest point differential, 41-7, thanks in large part to a faltering Chiefs’ defense that lacked the skill and leadership of Berry.

Now. All the talk on bounties has been about defensive players going after defense-less players on the offense. In this case, we’re talking about an offensive wide receiver going in for a legal, low hit on a defensive player. Did Johnson, the perpetrator of the alleged crime, intend to ruin the season for Berry? More importantly, was Johnson coaxed into giving a dangerous hit, should the situation allow him to do so?

The likelihood of such a bounty existing for a less-than-popular game with even more less-than-popular players is slim. Especially in light of the fact that this was September 11. Tough to imagine a coach asking a player to cause intentional damage on the very day when similarly gruesome behaviors put a lasting scar on the nation. But try telling that to Berry. Last month, he tweeted a new controversy, while bounty-gate conspiracies were just underway:

“Sometimes I sit n wonder if they had a bounty out on me … oh well … who cares. Either way u can’t hold me down.”

Seems like it would be hard for almost any recovering player to see bounty-gate and not wonder, even just a little, if their injury was intentionally driven from the opponent’s locker room. With Twitter giving voice to those oft-thought fears, Berry might be fishing in a swimming pool, but there’s always room for the possibility.

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