Pay-for-pain leaves fans with ‘perception scars’

College draft prospect Cyhl Quarles Photos by Brian Westerholt, Sports on Film


By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Can the NFL recover from the New Orleans Saints’ pay-for-pain scheme?

“It’s discouraging to know that there are guys out there who actually were paid money to get somebody put out of the game. I don’t understand why guys would feel that way,” says KMOJ Radio Manager Kelvin Quarles, a longtime NFL fan.

“It scares me when you hear things like that,” he continues. “Football is so violent that not only you can ruin somebody’s career, but also ruin someone’s life. The players in the league are so big, so fast and so strong now, and then you start putting [in] extra incentives like that. ”

“The commissioner did everything right,” adds former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Matt Blair on the punishments meted to former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and others. However, he felt that something should have been done to game officials who worked the games when the “big hits” took place. “They should be suspended for two or three years as well.”

Blair made the Pro Bowl a half-dozen times during his 12 NFL seasons (1974-85). He says he doesn’t recall as a player that defensive players, whether on the Vikings or any other club, got paid extra to purposely hurt offensive players.

“Back then you always wanted the best player on the team back on the bench,” he recalls. “There wasn’t any bounty. We never tried to eliminate a player — you just don’t do that.”

Thus far no player has been suspended, something that Blair strongly questions. “The player[s involved] should not play,” Blair suggests.

“I’m hoping the league has tighten up and put some strict penalties on people when they find out they are doing that,” agrees Quarles.

Blair says he doesn’t believe the pay-for-play matter left a permanent black eye on the NFL, but it did leave some “perception scars” among fans that will take a while to forget.

“[Football] is a fun game to play… You want players to walk away and no one is injured. That’s the way the game should be played,” concludes Blair.


Watching and hoping

Quarles’ youngest son, 23-year-old Cyhl Quarles of Wake Forest, is a defensive backfield prospect in this weekend’s college draft.

“It’s a crapshoot waiting for the draft,” Kelvin points out. “Initially he was the No. 12 strong safety in the nation. I think he’s moved up [on the draft list] based on some conversations he’s had with some of the teams. There are some teams that are interested, but I don’t know how interested.”

At least four teams have talked to Cyhl, reports Kelvin, who will watch the two-day draft with much interest.

Summitt will be missed

Longtime Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt stepped down last Wednesday after 38 years.

“It was Pat and a number of us…who wanted a say in women’s basketball” and helped found the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer said while speaking in Ann Arbor, Mich. last week.

Now the winningest active women’s coach with 863 wins, Stringer admitted that she will miss Summitt and that news of her retirement “really hurt me personally.”


Moving forward  

Former WNBA multi-time MVP Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was named last week as the new women’s basketball coach at Texas Southern. She was at North Carolina-Wilmington the past two seasons.

Danielle O’Banion, a former U of M assistant coach (2003-07), was named last week as Kent State’s new head women’s basketball coach. She was at Memphis the past four seasons, the past two as associate head coach. This is her first collegiate head-coaching position.


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to