Last Monday night, the New York Giants lost to the New Orleans Saints 49-24 in a game that was typical in at least two ways: the Saints both scored a lot of points and won. Yet Stefan Fatsis of Slate.com noticed two other typical aspects of the game that highlighted a broader tension between legality and morality in the National Football League (NFL). Take a look:

The way players react after touchdowns is relevant in an entertainment sense. An act ends, the curtain falls, the audience applauds, an intermission commences. How they react after other, more routine plays is, I’d argue, far more revealing about the culture of football. There were two moments in the Saints’ 49-24 vivisection of the Giants’ defense on Monday night that exposed the deep moral conundrum for NFL players: You are paid to inflict maximum pain, but maybe it shouldn’t feel right to do it.

… what’s “legal” in an NFL rulebook sense isn’t always what’s “moral” in a human sense. Not every player will be working from the same playbook, as two plays in the Superdome on Monday night showed.

You can read more here. The last seven paragraphs are where Fatsis discusses the two aforementioned moments:

If you bemoan the celebration of what sure as hell could have been a serious injury, are you a no-fun dinosaur? Do we want our professional football players to be single-minded destroyers … or do we want a little humanity to mask the stench of our weekly bloodlettings?

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