There’s a new development in the Saints' bounty story, and this one has people talking.
Yahoo! first reported about an incendiary speech former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams made to Saints defensive players the night before his last game with the team, a playoff loss to San Francisco in January. A documentary filmmaker, who is working on a film on former New Orleans player Steve Gleason, taped the speech and released it. ESPN's Mike & Mike talked about it this morning.
There are comments from Williams that are going to cause a big stir. Here are highlights:
“Kill the head and the body will die. We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways.’’
“We need to find out in the first two series of the game … that little wide receiver, No. 10 (Kyle Williams), about his concussion. We need to (expeletive) put a lick on him right now.
“(Receiver Michael Crabtree) becomes human when we take out that outside ACL.’’
You can make the case that this is simply a coach trying to fire up his players, and bounties aren't specifically mentioned.
But, in light of all that's gone on, I don't see anything good coming out of this for the Saints or Williams. The one thing I’ll defend Williams on just a little bit is the part about Gore’s head. I don’t think Williams told his players to injure Gore’s head. He just told them to make Gore ineffective by getting him to run sideways. This is a common speech among coaches -- cut off a snake’s head, the body will die. Still, it sounds terrible to be talking about a player’s head, even in a figurative sense, considering everything that’s going on with the Saints.
Other quotes are indefensible. On Kyle Williams, Gregg Williams clearly told his players to put a big hit on a player who previously had a concussion. On Crabtree, Williams told his players to take out the receiver’s knee.
Keep in mind, these quotes were made about a week after the Saints were told the NFL was re-opening its investigation into a bounty program that New Orleans had been told to stop. That's very significant, because it shows the Saints never stopped, even after multiple warnings. Also, these quotes are coming to light on a day when New Orleans coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt are having their appeals heard by the NFL.
I think there’s a good chance the NFL already heard Williams’ speech. It probably came up in the NFL investigation of the bounty program. If it didn’t, it’s now public, and it certainly doesn’t reflect well on Williams or the Saints.
Williams already has been suspended indefinitely; the former defensive coordinator can have his status reviewed next year. I think the latest developments decrease the chances of Williams coaching in the NFL again.
I also think that the chances of Payton, Loomis and Vitt getting their suspensions reduced on appeal aren’t very good.