Well, Gregg Williams won’t coach in the NFL again. It doesn’t matter how many other coaches talk like this, or that the brutality of the business is considered a given both by the participants and those who observe the game closely.
Williams said things that run absolutely counter to what Roger Goodell and the league’s zillion-plus lawyers are trying to convey as the spirit of their game, so he will no longer be allowed to take part. No argument there from me, because if we want football to have a future in this nation, aggressive measures must be taken to change the culture. Change what’s considered acceptable. Change what’s considered a given.
Williams specifically called for his defensive players to injure several San Francisco 49ers one day before the NFC Divisional Round game, a game the 49ers won that was widely considered Alex Smith’s best performance in his NFL career. In an audio clip that has become the dominant story today, Williams demonstrated with his words and a hand gesture that anyone who knocked Alex Smith out of the game would earn money in return. Desperate acts by a man who wasn’t manning a very good defense, a defense which relied on secondary blitzes to pressure the quarterback.
Here’s the audio (NSFW, due to language):
These are not the words of a man who feels like he was leading the best defense onto Bill Walsh Field that day. On the contrary, he tells the team that, in effect, they kind of stink. But due to their unapologetically injury-focused nature, they can escape with a win — as long as the 49ers’ offensive skill position players are carted off with a variety of injuries.
Ready for a quick breakdown? Here’s that excerpt from Williams’ speech, by the numbers:
— References to “head“: 10 (9 if you take out the reference to Kyle Williams’ “concussion,” but I think that should count)
— References to “ACL“: 1
— References to “ankle“: 1
— Players/targets Williams specifically told his team to injure: 6 (Frank Gore, Kendall “Little 32″ Hunter, Kyle “little wide receiver, No. 10″ Williams, Michael “fake ass primadonna” Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Alex Smith)
— Mentions of the NFL being a “production business“: 2
— Mentions of the players’ need to not “apologize”: 4
— Blatant pay-for-injury references: 1
— Mentions of the word “kill“: 4
Clearly the Saints aren’t the lone rogue squad out to either knock opponents out of games or take advantage of prior injuries (and to all those who complain so vociferously about Jim Harbaugh’s secrecy in regards to injuries and other matters, please stop talking). The New York Giants also knew of Williams’ concussion issues and planned accordingly in the NFC Championship Game.
However, even what the Giants admitted to pales in comparison to this. The main reason: Gregg Williams’ insistence that his players focus on hitting the 49ers’ heads in the pile and during “walk-aways.” In other words, after the whistle blows and the opponent’s guard might be down, just a little … strike. Maim. Concuss.
Then reap the rewards.
Wonder if Donte Whitner took home any cash prizes after this hit on Pierre Thomas: