It’s about what I find one of the most interesting and complex issues in this whole saga: the decision by filmmaker Sean Pamphilon to release audiotapes of Gregg Williams, the ringleader of the bounty program, talking to his players the night before last season’s playoff game in San Francisco. It’s also about former Saints special-teams star Steve Gleason, who is battling ALS and was the person who got Pamphilon access to the meeting room in the first place.
Pamphilon talked at length about why he released the tapes. He also talked about the fallout he’s faced since then. He said hearing Williams talk so graphically about injuring specific San Francisco players left him extremely conflicted. The aftermath hasn’t been what Pamphilon expected.
"And what do you do? What do … you DO?" Pamphilon asked. "What I thought releasing this audio would do is create a public dialogue that could not be ignored … something that's going to make everyone think and talk. Because before this, people knew bounties existed. But nobody knew what a bounty actually sounded like. How disgusting it is.
"But what happened instead is most of that was swallowed up. The dialogue has shifted to 'Filmmaker betrays dying man.' And how do you defend yourself against a man who you love, when almost everyone says you betrayed him, and it's destroying your reputation? I mean, I love this guy. I love this guy."
Gleason has said he didn’t authorize the release of the tapes and said he was disappointed they became public. Pamphilon apologized for taking what he said was a cheap shot at Gleason when he said the former player was “protecting his own interests’’ in football by denouncing the release of the tapes. But Pamphilon made no apology for making the tapes public because he thought society had a right to know about the bounty program. Pamphilon said he still cares deeply for Gleason.
“It is very difficult trying to defend yourself in public against a man who has a terminal disease,’’ Pamphilon said. "I treated Steve like he was living. Not like he was dying. I met him not as the person he was before [ALS or the NFL] and I see him as a man living in a very glorious way. I see him as a fighter. I haven't seen Steve as dying. I've always seen him as a man gracefully living."