Inside the question of whether gratuitous mayhem is a strategic element of pro football is a question of a different kind. It involves former Saints standout Steve Gleason and a filmmaker, Sean Pamphilon, who's making a documentary about Gleason's struggle with ALS.
The real reason that Goodell lowered the full weight of the NFL hammer is unbelievable arrogance. And that's where this scandal resonates with American culture.
Will this finally be the year that somebody bests Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak? At least it's possible, unlike lots of other marks.
Nevermind the salary cap, and violations of the NFL constitution, cash incentives for purposely injuring opponents is simply and utterly despicable.
Severe punishments, while certainly justifiable in this case, may further perpetuate football's inner culture of secrecy and in turn, seem counterintuitive.
The discipline handed out to the New Orleans Saints for their systematic program of "bounties" paid to players for injuring opponents from 2009-2011 ranks as one of the most influential stories of the year in football.
Call the bounty program that sought to hurt, maim, destroy and purposely injure high-powered football players what it is: criminal. This is organized crime at its worse -- nothing less.
What will the NFL do about the New Orleans Saints bounty system? It's come to light that the players were paid bonuses for maiming opposing players and knocking them out of games.