Kyle Riviere: Old school player, new school reaction

Kyle Riviere

It has become so common that it's almost cliché to see an old-school NFL player bashing the toughness of players today.

They laugh at guys sitting out with sprained ankles and knees and are downright befuddled by roughing the passer calls. Like former Steeler great Jack Lambert would say about modern quarterbacks, "Put a skirt on them."

Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik will go to his grave saying that any football player that doesn't play both ways is not a football player at all, even though NFL players haven't routinely played on both sides of the ball since the '50s.   

So, when all-time great Bears running back Gale Sayers tackles the issue of the Saints and "Bounty Gate," you expect him to wonder what all the fuss is about.  Instead, he just fussed, and it was emotional and emphatic.   

On Comcast SportsNet Chicago's "Inside Look," last week, Sayers said of the Saints involved, "Those fools should never get a chance to play or coach in the game again. Never.  They should never go out and play this game again, go out and coach this game again."

That seems a little over-the-top for a guy that played back in the '60s with the likes of scary, ferocious defensive greats like: Deacon Jones, Ray Nitschke and his old teammate, Dick Butkus.    

Deacon used to slap offensive linemen in the helmet so hard their heads almost got knocked off.  And anyone that says two guys with mean-streaks like Nitschke and Butkus weren't trying to hurt everybody they tackled is just being naive.

Sure, those guys might not have put money on the table or verbally proclaimed they wanted to hurt somebody but believe me, every time they went in for a hit, they saw blood.  Whether Sayers would like to admit it or not, the Saints players weren't so different.

Sure, money was reportedly up for grabs, but what the Saints did was no different than what guys like Butkus and Lambert did throughout the NFL's illustrious history.

It's always been the defense's main objective to knock the opposing quarterback out of the game.  It's one of the oldest and most closely-followed rules in football.

Many people point to the 2010 NFL Championship Game against the Vikings when the Saints pummeled Bret Favre from start to finish. What they fail to mention is that the referees did not see fit to throw one single flag for roughing the passer in that game. They deemed every hit on Favre as clean.

Maybe Sayers needs to pop in some game film. He needs to watch the Saints defense of the past few years and point out plays where they intentionally took cheap shots to cause injuries.  He'll be looking forever; he won't find it.  

He'll only see guys playing the game like they've played their whole lives -- like defensive players played back when they were trying to take him down every Sunday. I thought old-school guys were supposed to like that.