Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Apr 2012

Williams Wanted 49ers Hurt in Playoff Game

As The BountyGate Turns...

In the speech at the team’s hotel near the San Francisco Airport, [Gregg] Williams -– according to documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon -– at one point made a hand signal suggesting he would personally pay for a ferocious shot on 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

Williams also referenced the prospect of his players inflicting a severe knee injury upon San Francisco wideout Michael Crabtree and exhorted them to "put a lick on" backup receiver Kyle Williams in an effort to "find out" if he was still suffering from the effects of a late-December concussion.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 05 Apr 2012

124 comments, Last at 17 Apr 2012, 3:25pm by Anonymous1


by jimm (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:32am

I know I will get a lot of backlash for this post but I sincerely believe the Saints should be stripped of their 2009 Super Bowl.

It is very clear now that in 2009 the Saints tactics were to take out key players by any illegal means necessary. I think when it becomes as obvious as it does on this audio to what lengths they were willing to go outside the rules and then looking at the tape of those games to see how far they did indeed go, you can't just fall back on they were penalized on the field and still won. You simply can't have a team rewarded with the highest honour in the sport when you know what lengths they were willing to illegally go to get it.

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:45am

You going to also need to strip basically every team from the 60s and 70s of their rings then, and 85 Bears since Buddy Ryan was known for having bounties.

It's my opinion that it's not the NFL's job to police intent, if something dangerous and illegal happens then punish the offenders, but don't try to read their minds for what they were trying to do.

by Drakos (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:57am

Does it count as trying to read their minds if you're just responding to things that they said?

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:14pm

The coach has said that he wanted his players to injure other players, I have yet to see a player claim he tried injure other players using illegal hits.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:40pm

Yeah, that's the only thing that makes me feel better.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:58pm

To be fully accurate, the coach says he wants his players to use illegal hits to injure other players.

by tunesmith :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:00pm

There are already examples of players admitting they try to injure other players at the bottom of a pile... but maybe that's not your point.

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:14pm

What if Williams had told his players to hit Alex Smith in the head, but video showed that no such head shots took place during the game? Do you still punish the Saints? Would there be a difference if one of the defenders later told the media that although Williams told them to do that, they wanted to play the game cleanly?

It's much cleaner to punish based on what actually happened, rather than trying to assess the intent of the players. Williams may have advocated unsavory tactics, but unless they were enacted I don't see a problem.

by Deelron :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:18pm

Yes, just because the players either chose to ignore instructions from their coach or were unable to actually pull off what he wanted without getting caught in no way absolves management implorying them to inflict purposeful illicit injury.

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:25pm

Who wants to absolve the guys in management?

by Deelron :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 1:51pm

Post 9 suggested it, if the players didn't acutally do on the field what was asked of them.

by Scott C :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:12pm

No this is about stripping the SB from the Saints (management and players included), so I read #9 in relation to that. No reason to strip the players of their rings, management, maybe.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 8:44am

Considering rings come from the teams, not the NFL, I'm not sure how you'd strip them anyway.

by Pied :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:49pm

With the scrutiny football is getting over injuries these days, the NFL damn well better crack down on this shit.

As for 'policing intent':
NFL != US justice system

by jklps :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:55am

Well if you want to take it a step further, perhaps the Giants would not have even MADE the Super Bowl this year had Kyle Williams not been targeted in the previous week and turned the ball over twice in the NFC Championship game...

by Joseph :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:21pm


How does audio from the 2011 playoffs impact the SB 2 years ago??

BTW, if you have to beat Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, & Peyton Manning all in a row, doesn't your game plan revolve around knocking the QB out of the game???? (Esp. when Matt Leinart, Tavaris Jackson, and Jim Sorgi are the backups!!!???) [For comparison sake, the Pats had to beat Tebow & Flacco to get to the SB to then face the other Manning.]

{Even as a Saints fan, the coaches, players, & team are getting what they "earned"--no doubt about it. Taking away a title? As Tanier points out in his Walkthrough from last week, you're going to be doing a lot of revisionist history if you go down that road.}

by JonC :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 9:32am

Assuming your question wasn't trolling, the answer is an obvious NO. I'm not an nfl defensive coordinator, but I'd guess that DCs spend quite a lot of time designing and teaching pass coverages and blitz schemes, rather than saying "Eff it, 8-man blitz till we kill the SOB. Everyone else cover 0!" and heading off to the bar mid-morning Tuesday.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 12:17pm

Clearly you've seen my brother play Madden.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:03pm

I'm sure that stuff goes on all the time on many teams at the highest levels of football (including big time college football). I doubt Williams will ever coach in the NFL again.

But I hope this can serve as a wake up call.

Williams aggression hurt his teams every time someone went for a big hit and got burned instead (and as a Redskins fan, I know all about that). And while some people do get amped up over the violence in the sport, the NFL would do just fine if it actually put measures in place to safeguard the players.

--anti-concussion helmets of the type Steve Young wore or several new types [about which the objection is usually looks--but it would look more like the popular Fox robot, so I don't see the problem.]
--suspending a player for a game if they cause a concussion (except for inadvertent shots, the only one of which I can think of is when a falling player's head hits a bystander's knee)
--banning any hit with the head, no matter the circumstance
--banning all hits to the head, in any circumstance

Yes, this would cause unlucky players to sometimes get penalized or suspended. So what? What's more important? If players can remember where the bathroom is when they're 45, or if their team is unjustly penalized?

If you took these measures, you'd see a huge change towards fundamentally sound tackling, which would make the game safer and, to me at least, less frustrating to watch.

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:20pm

Many levels of rugby have similar measures to the ones you propose - it's the defender's responsibility not to tackle high and to wrap up rather than going for a kill shot.

I'd also be in favor of in-game suspensions: if a player intentionally causes helmet-to-helmet contact, in addition to the 15-yard penalty, the player must sit out the remainder of the quarter plus the next quarter. Many officials are reluctant to completely eject a player from a game, but an option for a less severe punishment that still removes him from the field could send an effective message.

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:26pm

I don't think rugby is a good comp to football for a couple of reasons. First, small amounts of field position are not as important. It's generally fine to give up an additional yard or two as long as you get the guy down in rugby, while that could be devastating to an NFL defense. Secondly, there are not many opportunities in rugby where everyone gets lined up in a specific position to run into the opponent with maximum force, while this is basically a stable of football.

You can't change these two things about football without fundamentally changing the game.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:53pm

Here's the problem. So what? You're saying small amounts of field position trump an epidemic of ruined lives for ex-players. The more you think about it...

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:59pm

No, I'm saying if you change these things, it's no longer football.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:27pm

Well they didn't used to play with helmets or padding either, nor was the forward pass legal. Teddy Roosevelt nearly shut down the sport due to skull fractures.

You're still avoiding the big issue. You're saying that football as it exists now is so sacrosanct that cases like Dave Duerson, Daryl Stingley, etc. are of no account.

We can make football what we want it to be.

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:50pm

"You're saying that football as it exists now is so sacrosanct that cases like Dave Duerson, Daryl Stingley, etc. are of no account."

No I'm not. I'm just saying we'll be watching something completely different, to where it will not be football anymore.

And really, 1920s football is a different sport too.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:30pm

I'm sorry if I misunderstand but in saying "it will not be football anymore" is that a scenario you're willing to accept in the name of the health of the players? The implication I took is that "it won't be football" as you define it and you want to save "football" regardless of other concerns.

by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:26pm

No, I like football, and I'll be sorry to see it go, but if there is no way to keep it and not have lots of people getting brain damage, it has to go.

I just want to point out that the proposed changes will in fact kill football and create something else.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 6:41pm

And I of course couldn't disagree more strongly. A handful of tactics would change but not overall strategies or the look and feel of the game. And tactics change when rules change anyway, which happens all the time.

As I see it the change would mostly just force good tackling technique.

by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 10:58am

"It will become something else."

That's a broad statement. You might as well say that 1970s football was a different sport as well.

by tuluse :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 2:13pm

It is a broad statement, I am having trouble articulating what I mean.

I can be specific on this, I think these proposed changes are bigger than all the rules changes that have happened since the 1960s put together.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 9:04am

Fundamentally changing the rules such that only straight-up tackling is legal is as big a rule change as the manipulations of TD and FG values, the old rules with changed within the red-zone, and the legalization of the forward pass. In practice, that may be a more substantial rule change than free substitution.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 3:25pm

"I'm sorry if I misunderstand but in saying "it will not be football anymore" is that a scenario you're willing to accept in the name of the health of the players? The implication I took is that "it won't be football" as you define it and you want to save "football" regardless of other concerns."

Its not something I'm willing to accept.

They're adults. If you don't want to take the risks, don't play. Its not like they aren't well compensated.

There are a lot of jobs that are much more dangerous, and pay much less.

The NFLPA should be worrying about this stuff. The rest of us have bigger fish to fry.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:58pm

Agreed. The best reference to this I can think of is either Tom Jackson or Mike Ditka said "Football is NOT a contact sport. It's a collision sport."

Even in other rough sports like rugby or hockey, it's very rare for two opposing players to line up and go directly at each other with the entire point being to run over or through them.

That's the game; you can't change the style of play without changing the game entirely.

As far as regulating leading with the head, not hitting offensive players in the head, etc., this is already too difficult of a decision for referees. If a reciever lowers his head when he's about to get hit (which is a natural reaction) and that causes a helmet to helmet hit because the defender is aiming for the chest, that's a penalty that gets you ejected?

This is an ongoing argument, but the fact is it's what the sport is and has been since its inception.

I'm all for player safety as much as possible, but I guess what I'm saying is you can't defy the laws of physics. If 250 pounds is directly running into 250 pounds at a rate of speed faster than most of us could go, there is going to be a lot of energy released. That will cause injuries. It's unfortunate to see it happen, but its part of the game.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:31pm

You can still have collisions but ban leading with the head, use safer headgear, and make it a presumptive concussion = foul situation.

As for the difficulties of regulation, where do you draw the line? Nothing is more arbitrary than block/charge in basketball, but would you eliminate the fouls altogether just because sometimes the refs will get it wrong? No you don't. Now when you throw in the long-term well being of the players into the mix, it's clear that, given that officiating will always be arbitrary and sometimes wrong, you err on the side of safety.

As to the "difficulty" of avoiding a receiver's head when he lowers his head, it's easy. Just do what you are coached to do. Keep your head up and lead with your shoulder. If the receiver puts their head down, the only way you hit them helmet to helmet if you are taking care is if you yourself are leading with your head (aka spearing, which is already a foul but hardly ever enforced).

Now might this give the defender a slight disadvantage? Maybe, though better fundamental tackling is probably a net gain for the defense. Even so, let's say rules changes make it slightly easier for offensive players to make defenders miss.


As well, the league could always tweak the rules to give back some advantage to the defense.

We need to think smartly about how to reduce the number of dangerous collisions in the sport.

For instance, if the defense needs a break, maybe let defenders go back to two chucks within ten yards. If you think about it, that will likely cause more overall contact, but less high impact contact of the sort where the db's play off the line and then run full speed at a receiver who runs an out or buttonhook-type route and tries to blow them up. Why? Because if more low impact contact is allowed near the line, defenses will take advantage by playing more press coverage, and break up the timing that allows those plays to succeed. [Of course you would want to study game tapes to see if the situation is as I speculate. Possibly, those rule changes would lead to more running plays, which could be even more damaging. But then, the league is fantastically wealthy, and could easily put accelerometers in helmets and study the types of plays and collisions that are most problematic.]

You cannot turn your back on this issue. It's not about energy released. It's about impacts to heads.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:50pm

I agree on headgear I'd be all for making and requiring safer headgear. 100%.

I think you're underestimating the speed of the game at the NFL level. A defender is not going to be able to line up every tackle as a perfect form tackle no matter how good they are. It's not like in basketball where if the defender sets his feet it's a charge, but otherwise it's a block. Would that be called the same way in football; that if the defender squares up and makes the form tackle its a good play, but it if its not a form tackle its a penalty on the defense (i.e. block in basketball)? That would make all sorts of plays penalties and the offense could march down the field with penalties alone. There would have to be a ton of arm tackles attempted and we'd see plays like Marshawn Lynch against the Saints on a weekly basis.

I'm not turning my back on the issue at all. It's a terrible thing. And I hate to use this as any sort of argument, but the players know they're risking injury being out there. Even high school players know they're risking injury. They're playing because they love the game.

Injuries in any sport are a terrible thing, but they happen. Would you tell MLB they can only have pitchers pitch up to 90 mph or only throw a curve with 2 feet of break because pitching with any more movement or speed could cause elbow problems and may require Tommy John surgery?

Again I understand your concern, but this is the game. It's how its played. You can't make changes as drastic as you're suggesting without fundamentally changing what the game is.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:08pm

On most concussion plays, was the hit haphazard, or did the defender square up? From what I can recall, it's the latter. Concussions and head shots don't look "accidental" or due to the "speed of the game" to me. They look like the players were not taking care to protect themselves and others. It's not like players are governed by random motion generators. Particularly when it comes to keeping their heads up or down.

Furthermore, if you take something like long runs with multiple missed tackles, that is exactly the type of play where I believe stricter rules about tackling would actually help the defense. Usually on those plays, somebody went for a hit instead of wrapping up, or put their head down and got juked instead of keeping their head up and following the ballcarrier.

Finally, how about we don't compare the effects of not being able to throw a major league fastball to the effects of chronic brain trauma?

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:27pm

Look at a couple of plays.

is Anquan Boldin against the Jets. Both defenders led with their head. Stop it at :39 and you can see both of them launched with their head first. If they wanted they could have hit Boldin in the chest. Might they have given up the TD? Again, who cares?

Or here's a play that had a significant impact on the 2010 season, that I complained about (and I'm a Washington fan), which is Aaron Rodgers concussion. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81b328f7/article/packers-qb-rodger...
Again, at :47 you see the defender (a no-name)lead with his head and then extend it like a pro wrestler or something to make sure he makes helmet to helmet contact--this after the ball was out and he could easily have kept his head up. Again, if my rules were in place, he would have had to change his approach and either commit to tackling by lowering his shoulder and hitting Rodgers in the chest or by standing up to try to impede the throw. But again, so what?

I don't see either of these plays as "speed of the game" or "awkwardness." They are both due to an approach to tackling that doesn't prioritize head safety. Once in a while there's an awkward play. But most bad hits are just bad hits.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 6:00pm

is Anquan Boldin against the Jets. Both defenders led with their head. Stop it at :39 and you can see both of them launched with their head first. If they wanted they could have hit Boldin in the chest. Might they have given up the TD? Again, who cares?"

The second defender did not lead with his head. He was in the air against a taller receiver, whose head was driven forward and downward into the defender. This is sort of like accusing Todd Herremans of kneeing Michael Vick in the head in the Falcons game last year. It's questionable whether the first (trail) defender performed a head-to-head hit, or whether it was shoulder-to-shoulder.

Here's a fun converse:

Marshawn Lynch here clearly initiates a helmet-to-helmet hit that is arguably a spear, but is not flagged.

Here's another fun one:

Tom Brady jumping over the pile, clearly leading with his head.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:01pm

On the Boldin are you kidding? Look at it again. At :39 the first defender is off his feet, 45 degrees to the ground (I got out my protractor). At the same moment just before impact the second defender is at a 50 degree angle to the ground with his helmet on a collision course with Boldin's whether the first hit happened or not. Seriously, you can stop that clip at :039, seeing the two defenders define a right isosceles triangle and claim one of them is not leading with his head? What, pray tell, would a case of leading with your head be?

As to the Lynch, if we're talking about the same moment, first of all I see possible helmet contact but mainly shoulder to shoulder. If there is helmet to helmet (or in a similar case in which there was), that is a gray area because Lynch is hidden behind the line and from his perspective so is the LB, and they see each other and pause and then each choose a path with no knowledge of where the other will go. I wouldn't flag it in a perfect world, but I'll take a world in which that gets flagged and so do all the other instances I bring up over one where none do. I also think Whitner's hit on Thomas should have been flagged.

As to the Brady clip, I guess it bears qualifying that when we say lead with your head, we mean lead with your head into something. Brady leaps into the air, not putting his head in the path of any defender, much less someone's helmet. And even so, the defender has the choice to hit Brady's shoulder.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:24am

You're reviewing these plays, with the benefit of hindsight, stopping them at specific seconds on a clock. In my opinion, the real world, real speed, doesn't work that way.

You say in your paragraph on the Lynch play that its a gray area because they are both hidden behind the line of scrimmage. How often do you think his occurs? I would think quite a lot. Every one of those plays is now a flag? Are linebackers and running backs going to stop once they see the hole open up, hope it stays open for long enough to analyze the situation, then square their bodies so as to avoid any head to head contact? I just don't see it. That's no longer football. You want the sport to change that drastically? I don't. I just don't.

As far as your other post where you say not to compare one injury to another because it's more serious - how about NASCAR (which I hate, but that's neither here nor there)? In the last however many years, one of the true legends of the sport died in a car wreck in a race. Are they going to tell them they can't turn at speeds above 50 mph?

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by usernaim250 :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 9:12am

a)they have the ability to look at plays on replay which they could do whenever there is a hit to the head...and even ex post facto fines and suspensions would have a deterrent effect, so I'm not worried about "real time." Just the fact that defenders are tailoring their tactics to avoid head trauma is the outcome we're after.

b)on the Lynch situation--it's not that common and it's not a big problem. The concussion hits come from both players going full speed. In that situation, both players pause, so the impact is much less. And I think you are underestimating the degree to which players can control their heads to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact.

c)It's worth noting that car racing including NASCAR has in fact regularly changed the rules, largely to control speeds and increase the safety of the drivers. Somehow, fans keep coming.

d)and for that matter, the NFL has regularly changed rules year after year for all sorts of reasons, greatly changing the way the game is played over the years, and nothing seems to hurt it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 9:24am

"And I think you are underestimating the degree to which players can control their heads to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact."

You don't seem to get that heartburn when it's defenders who cannot control their heads to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact. (Seriously, anyone who bends forward is technically leading with their head) What is it about offensive players that is so sacrosanct to you? Why aren't defensive players worth protecting too? Why excuse sloppy running, but not slopping tackling?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 9:21am

"As to the Brady clip, I guess it bears qualifying that when we say lead with your head, we mean lead with your head into something. Brady leaps into the air, not putting his head in the path of any defender, much less someone's helmet. And even so, the defender has the choice to hit Brady's shoulder."

Well now that we know you're simply trolling, it's no longer necessarily to argue with you under the pretense that you are a rational actor.

Your analyses boil down to this:
When a defender leans forward, it is a flag.
When an offensive player leans forward, it is legal.
Only offensive players merit protection.

This is a ludicrous position to take, and one so unbalanced as to not be adoptable in any sport. Even basketball contains the concept of the offensive foul.

by RickD :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 11:55am

I smell straw.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 12:13pm

RickD, do you really smell straw or afe you just saying that because you see tje straw over there and you think it has an odor?

by usernaim250 :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 12:20pm

Your head has to be somewhere! The offensive player has the ball, and the defensive player is trying to hit him. So yeah, the onus is on the defensive player to avoid hitting the offensive man in the head.

But yeah, in no way to I mean to suggest that merely leaning forward is grounds for a penalty on either side.

Seriously, you think there is anything comparable about the hits on Boldin and Rodgers with Brady leaping unimpeded over the pile?

And you call ME a troll?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 1:30pm

"Seriously, you think there is anything comparable about the hits on Boldin and Rodgers with Brady leaping unimpeded over the pile? "


If you are serious about actually reducing the frequency of head impacts in the game of football, as opposed to merely protecting the offensive players, then as much effort must be applied to reducing the occurrence of offensive players leading with their heads as is spent reducing the occurrence of defensive players leading with their heads.

If you are going to crack down on DBs and LBs making helmet-to-helmet contact, then you also need to outlaw RBs lowering their heads when coming into a hit and QBs diving head-first over the pile. If it's actually "helmet-to-helmet" contact that we're concerned about, than offensive players have just as much a role to play in being forbidden from initiating unnecessary helmet contact. And diving into a hole head-first is the textbook definition of preventable helmet contact.

Really, we should also outlaw WRs from diving for the ball towards a DB, because he is also leading with his helmet towards an unsuspecting defensive player.

If you think this doesn't sound like football and unnecessarily changes the game -- too bad. That's what your ranting about defenders sounds like to the rest of us. Good for the goose is good for the gander.

by Sisyphus :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:49pm

This is really misguided. Look, the rules against spearing have been on the books for a long, long time and at one the time these rules were actually enforced; this isn't anything that is really new. They only apply to the tackler though. A form tackle, and you may be too young to have ever actually seen one in a NFL game, (though they do occasionally occur you may not have actually realized what you were seeing) means your head is up you hit with your shoulder and you drive through the ball carrier WITHOUT leaving your feet. This has nothing to do with the offensive players positioning.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 9:20am

"Look, the rules against spearing have been on the books for a long, long time and at one the time these rules were actually enforced; this isn't anything that is really new. They only apply to the tackler though."

What an ignorant thing to say. Spearing has always applied to the offense as well. The entire point of the rule is to protect the person doing the spearing (spearing is amazingly dangerous). What purpose would there be in applying a safety rule only to one side of the ball? (Oh wait...)

(I'll just leave these here:
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/623008/Head-Down-Contact-and-Spearing-in-Foo... (slide 15))

Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8.g:
"If a player uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily."

This is covered under the unnecessary roughness rules, which apply to both the offense and defense (facemasking/illegal hands to the face, and leg whipping are covered in the same article).

As far as form tackling, please instruct me how one executes a form tackle on a perpendicular runner -- in which the correct strategy is to get the head around in front and drive through -- without the defender's head coming into contact with the ball-carrier's body. The head is located perilously close to the shoulder, for even the largest players.

by usernaim250 :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 5:24pm

"If you are serious about actually reducing the frequency of head impacts in the game of football, as opposed to merely protecting the offensive players, then as much effort must be applied to reducing the occurrence of offensive players leading with their heads as is spent reducing the occurrence of defensive players leading with their heads."

Look, it's easy. Examine plays that cause concussions. How many involve the ballcarrier leading with their head. Very few. Hence, it is a low priority. You can indeed greatly reduce the frequency of head impacts without addressing this point.

"If you are going to crack down on DBs and LBs making helmet-to-helmet contact, then you also need to outlaw RBs lowering their heads when coming into a hit and QBs diving head-first over the pile."
Find me a case where a QB took a big hit to the head when diving head first over the pile. If you can do that, find several more. Then I will take you seriously on this point. Personally I can't recall an instance. In those plays, a) the outcome is achieved before the head is over the pile and b) defenders have a much more attractive target than the QB's head, namely the ball. Not to mention, there is no hiding the hit to the head if it occurs.

"If it's actually "helmet-to-helmet" contact that we're concerned about, than offensive players have just as much a role to play in being forbidden from initiating unnecessary helmet contact."

Well, the thing is the ballcarrier is the target and in the dance of tackling, it is generally the defender who has the last move. Once in a while, a big hit will happen inadvertently, but basically, if the ballcarrier eludes or fakes the defender, there is no hard hit, so no worries. If not, then we can presume the ballcarrier has lost, i.e. is not in control of the situation. After all, if the ballcarrier were in control, he would never be hit much less tackled or hit in the head. So we put the onus on the defender to avoid helmet to helmet.

We also assume that the ballcarrier aims to protect his head, and indeed empirically they seem to protect their head much more than defenders. Rarely can a ballcarrier get free by sacrificing his head, and such contact might cause a fumble. On the other hand, frequently a defender can stop a play or cause a fumble by sacrificing his (and the ballcarrier's) head. That's why we regulate the defender more heavily.

"If it's actually "helmet-to-helmet" contact that we're concerned about, than offensive players have just as much a role to play in being forbidden from initiating unnecessary helmet contact."

Um, no. It takes two to tango. If we ban one of the two (the defender) from tangoing then there will be no tango.

" Good for the goose is good for the gander."
I do not believe this constitutes a universal moral, logical, or pragmatic principle.

I will step in here and say that I believe addressing the defender's role is necessary and sufficient to increase head safety, but I am not opposed to considering how we might better regulate the ballcarrier. But none of what you say makes any sense.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 04/11/2012 - 8:35am

"After all, if the ballcarrier were in control, he would never be hit much less tackled or hit in the head. So we put the onus on the defender to avoid helmet to helmet."

There are plenty of plays in football where a RB tries to run over a tackler, particularly a DB. Ricky Williams did it all the time when he was good for the Dolphins. You'd have to outlaw these plays too. Offensive players would only be able to avoid contact in the rules you suggest, never initiate it.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/12/2012 - 8:35am

You don't seem to get it. The idea is not to instantiate some sort of equity between offensive and defensive players--in particular not "equity according to YesButIUsedToBeaDo...". The idea is to prevent concussions and head trauma.

The plays you are talking about, at least to the naked eye, rarely cause concussions. So they do not need to be addressed.

Let's walk through it again to understand why. Usually, concussions happen when both players are going full speed and hit helmets. That's why they are trying to cut down on kickoff returns--because everyone's running full speed.

In plays from scrimmage, concussions happen most frequently (to my naked eye) when receivers are full speed or nearly so in the open field and get hit by a defender who has run from a distance and is going full speed. So that's obviously the main situation to control. If you have an 80% reduction in concussions in those cases, I bet you have a better than 50% reduction in all concussions.

When runners are in the open field, if the defender is coming full speed, the runner rarely just bulls into the defender. They usually juke which creates either a miss or a glancing blow. They often come to a full stop, which greatly reduces the impact as now only one moving object is at full speed (and energy is correlated to the square of the velocity). So just to protect themselves, ballcarriers avoid full speed hits and hence regulation is a low priority if at all.

When a ballcarrier runs full speed into a defender, it's usually because he has an advantage--the defender is flat footed or out of position. Hence, a glancing blow OR, again, one in which only one player is moving full speed. This was the case in the Lynch play. The LB is not running full speed but hesitates. No full speed = no concussion.

by peanutbutter (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:48pm

"they're playing because they love the game"

Yes, but they love the game because the culture around them glorifies the game, and they love aspects of the game that are abhorrent simply because the culture glorifies those aspects and because the culture tells them that those very aspects make the players heroes: high school heroes, state heroes, national heroes, worldwide heroes. If we made a new game and we placed celebrated millionaires on television and talked about them endlessly and glorified the honor of the players and worked as thoroughly to create a mythology of the sport as we have done with football and etc., etc., but the game was, say, Russian roulette, then high school players on down would still elect to play the game for its fame and glory and honor, because children can be indoctrinated to do just about anything and most of them will hold onto potent cultural delusions far into adulthood. Steve Pinker has a new book on the psychology of violence, showing the role a culture of honor plays in the tendency toward violence.

In short, yes, changing the sport means changing you, too, and that's what you are resisting.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:20am

I'm veering away from the discussion here, but this seems to be more about psychology and biology than football.

I can't remember exactly who it was, I think Russ Grimm, in his HOF speech said something along the lines of:

There is no greater feeling in the world than moving a man against his will.

To me, that's part of what makes football so great. The idea that all 22 guys on the field know at some point its going to be a one on one match up, not just body on body (that's nasty..) but will against will. That goes beyond psychology to the biology of humans, in my opinion. Overcoming someone in a one on one scenario.

I say this not to sound hearltess but to point out: this is what football is. Yes part of it is glorified violence. The entire sport is based on that violence. To change it with the items being suggested here is to change the fundamental aspects of the game. I like football the way it is. I love it.

I don't want to resist change in the sense that more advanced padding will help prevent injuries. I would resist changes to the basics of the sport.

Chastize me if you so choose, but that's how I feel and I can't see that changing. And I can't see any player, at any level, saying to themselves "Well I don't really have the right angle on this play, so I'll let him go by me. Hopefully the next line of defense gets a better angle that I do. After all, he might get hurt." I know I wouldn't.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by usernaim250 :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 9:25am

"The idea that all 22 guys on the field know at some point its going to be a one on one match up, not just body on body (that's nasty..) but will against will. That goes beyond psychology to the biology of humans, in my opinion. Overcoming someone in a one on one scenario."

Well, the idea of sport is to take these types of competitive situations and confine them to specific, bounded actions. Football is already heavily rule-bound in terms of what men are allowed to do to each other. It would not be fundamentally changed. Only some tactics would be affected.

And it would still be quite violent.

Only difference is, more violent hits would be followed up by continued play rather than five minute delays and fewer players would miss action. I personally don't like concussion delays nor do I like it when teams are handicapped by players being out, and I don't like careers like Aikman and Young and Hoge etc. ending early--and that's just the game, not the permanent effects that head trauma has on players. [And I say that as someone who rooted with all my heart against Dallas, SF, and Denver.]

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:13am

Your original post said to suspend any player who has caused a concussion (and what if a hit didn't cause a concussion, but the impact of the head to the ground did? How do you prove that?) and eliminate all helment to helmet contact.

That isn't some tactics being affected, that's a fundamental change in the game. Players would have to stop, analyze, and act all within a fraction of a second and even then I'm not convinced they'd be able to analyze where the opposing player's head is going to be (though we differ on this).

I don't like seeing any players injured even if they play for Patriots. But again, the changes you originally suggested change the game entirely, not just a little bit. That's what I wouldn't want to see.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:02pm

And despite all that, rugby has a concussion problem.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:25pm

Though with state of the art helmets, I doubt they would.

by tunesmith :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:03pm

That works as a funny ironic comment but I'm not sure that's what you meant.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:03pm

Helmets are at best an incomplete solution to concussions. A concussion can be caused by rapid direction change or stopping so a solid hit to the chest which knocks the runner back and snaps his head forward is a potential cause where no impact to the head occurs at all. The impact can be between the brain and the skull.

Better helmets are being designed and will be mandated some day, but the game will continue to change. An employer can't willfully put employees into harms way knowing there is a real chance of life altering injury. The argument based on "players make a choice to play" won't stand the test of time. I know if I were an owner of an NFL franchise, I wouldn't rely on it as a legal or moral defense. In 5 years the game will have changed.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:11pm

That's absolutely true about snapping heads, though it does appear to the naked eye that most concussions are caused by direct trauma.

I'm with you that the game will change, though I fear 5 years might be optimistic. I sense handwaving from the NFL rather than creative solutions. Seems like the seatbelt issue, where the league doesn't want to admit there is actually any problem, but just wants to be able to say they've taken some measures.

And that's why I suggest that we think about ways to reduce head trauma in football that will maintain the things we like about the game.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:58pm

My 5 years was not meant to be optimistic or pessimistic (I'm not sure if shorter is more optimistic or more pessimistic) but an arbitrary time.

As to thinking about ways to reduce head trauma, I think the next 5 years will see a roll out of an "all of the above" approach including rule changes, tighter calls and improved equipment and fields.

A key indicator for me to distinguish between handwaving and creative solutions will be the funding by the NFL on things like helmet research.

by John Doe Lazy (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:30pm

There are plenty of jobs that are just as bad for your long term health that don't pay nearly as well. You are probably right about the game changing, simply due to the high visibility of the sport, which is a sad reminder of how skewed our collective priorities are.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 8:13pm

It's a skewed priority to maintain people's long-term heath?

Just because someone has it worse than football players, they should not be protected?

Who loses if we change the rules to protect the players?

I mean, why not allow bare-knuckle boxing again? After all, some people have it worse than bare knuckle boxers would. Plenty of battered spouses and children get beat up with no prize money at stake. And it sure would add excitement to boxing knowing that someone could die from a bout!

I would call your post a sad reminder of how skewed our collective priorities are.

by Anonymousjk (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:27pm

Pretty sure he's arguing that the skewed perspective is that football will change because it's high profile, whereas all the other jobs that are bad for your health, nobody cares about because nobody sees them.

For example, coal miners, or something.

by Whatev :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 4:45am

You know that the primary purpose of boxing gloves is to protect the puncher's hands, right?

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:04pm

A less extreme option would be to treat Personal Fouls (not just head-shots) like yellow cards in soccer--if you get two in a game, you're ejected, if you get two in non-consecutive games, it's an automatic 1-game suspension, and slates are wiped clean when the playoffs start.

Or just do it hockey-style and make the defense play with 10 men for the remainder of that drive.

by Whatev :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 4:47am

Personal fouls are not called terribly often, though. Two personal fouls on the same player in a game is pretty incredibly rare.

by John Doe Lazy (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:24pm

If a RB or receiver lowers their head before impact who gets penalized? The current system already outright encourages receivers to lower their heads. I have seen plays where a RB catches the ball, lowers his head and plows through the defender. Does the RB get penalized or the (attempted) tackler?

The current rules penalize the defender for the shot, regardless of what the "defenseless" player does. If the rule was extended to cover all offensive players (defenseless or not) without modification, it would be a disaster.

by Dan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:51pm

What if they used helmets that crumple when hit hard enough, like bicycle helmets? Then it would be impossible to ignore blows to the head (since play would need to stop for a player to replace his helmet), and players wouldn't feel as much temptation to use their own helmet as a weapon (since they'd be destroying their helmet in the process). That would help the rules against contact involving a player's head to be more strictly obeyed and enforced.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 4:50am

I once heard that the reason they moved away from any form of deformable helmet is the risk that such a device would be prone to getting caught up on other players' pads, resulting in their heads getting wrenched around which would increase the risk of a severe neck injury.

by jds (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:05pm

What a coincidence, this coming out on the day of the Saints/Payton appeal to Goodell.

I hope Gregg Williams has his resume out to some CFL teams, because I don't think any college could even touch him for the foreseeable future.

by Autolycus (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:08pm

Two things:
First, we're operating with a total lack of context here. The "money" hand signal and the Crabtree ACL talk are just over the line no matter what, totally egregious and worthy of sanction, but how much of the rest of this speech is the sort of thing you'd hear from any defensive coordinator right before a playoff game? I think the vast majority of this is locker room bravado designed to amp guys up before a big game, and is more indicative of the culture of the NFL than the unique maliciousness of the Saints.

Second, if we strip the Saints of the 2009 Super Bowl, where does that road end up? Do we void any Super Bowl that we have reason to believe was influenced by illegal acts, whether they were penalized at the time or not? Or any time we have reason to think that players had the intent to commit illegal acts, whether they did or not? And this recording is a step beyond that-- trying to inspire players to have the intent to commit illegal acts.

So punish Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, Joe Vitt, and especially Gregg Williams. Punish the hell out of them. But before we even begin to talk about stripping titles, there has to be some sort of concrete evidence of on-field behavior that changed the outcome of the game.

(And yes, I am well aware of the way the Saints pounded Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship. Here's the thing: if you're a defensive coordinator going up against a 40-year-old quarterback with a bum ankle in a title game, what sort of a strategy do you draw up?)

by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:29pm

Didn't Justin Tuck explain that the Giants were well aware of Williams' concussions and that they intended to hit him high early in the game, exactly as they did?

I suspect well north of 50% of teams prep in exactly this way.

By the way, isn't it true that if you lose games, the coaches get fied, new coaches come in, 75% of the roster gets turned over, and everybody has to scramble for jobs / cities / roles? Isn't it also true that winners get paid more, home team or a free-agency suitor? Given that level of motivation, do we really believe that a screaming Gregg even matters?


by Mark S. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:28pm

It wasn't Tuck who said that, it was Jacquian Williams and Devin Thomas. And they didn't say hit him high specifically, they just said they wanted to put a hit on him.

Justin Tuck HAS been quoted in the past as saying that he hates having his injuries publicized, because it means opponents are going to target him. The example I think he used was O-lineman intentionally stanping on his feet all game after his toe injury was on the report.

I'm 100% sure player injuries are targeted by opposing teams. One of the ugliest moments I remember in football was watching a Jet game where Chad Pennington was . I forget who the opponent was, but Pennington took a hit from a lineman as he released the ball. The lineman was on top of him for a few seconds, and very deliberatly placed his hand on Pennington's bad shoulder and pushed down as hard as he could while Chad screamed in agony (and came out of the game). It was was of those eye-opening, stomach churning moments for me. Maybe a Jet fan here will remember that specific play/game?

So, you can make the argument the Saints are being made an unfair example. However, when your coaches are giving actual payouts, and you were specifically warned by the league and chose to ignore them, you are practically volunteering to be made the eaxmple.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:45pm

This is very damning evidence. There'd been some talk that "indefinite" might have meant Williams being back next year. This makes you wonder if it won't be a WHOLE lot longer. Keep in mind this was AFTER the league had caught them the first time. Makes you wonder how much more blatant it could have been back when they thought they were in the clear.

When this scandal broke, I figured it was some sort of little side deal that much of the team didn't know about. It's now become abundantly clear that EVERYBODY must have known. Payton's buddy/agent was helping fund it? Williams openly talking about the bounties with outsiders present and taping him? Loomis and Payton lying to the league and somehow thinking they wouldn't get caught again? The Saints "leadership" all were totally irresponsible and downright nuts in how they handled this thing.

They come across like the fools you see on COPS who get nailed red handed and all you can wonder is how they ever imagined they might get away with it.

by Sisyphus :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:48pm

Clearly this crosses several lines and Gregg Williams probably should have caught a unreviewable lifetime ban for his efforts. I am also fine with what was levied against the coaching staff, management, and organization; it is not too harsh and might be too lienient in certain cases. When you have the position then you have the responsibility to know what is going on. Indeed probably Loomis should have caught a year's suspension as well.

As to what was happening twenty years ago plus it is irrelevant because the game is different and the men playing it are different as well. If you let them play by the standards of the Butkus era guys would be getting actually killed on the field. Today's players are simply too big, fast, and athletic to allow the same standard of mayhem. The athletic standard of the NFL "average" player is enormously higher than it was in the seventies and eighties and prior to that period the comparison for most players (there are of course individual exceptions) is laughable; very few could make a roster let alone stay on the field. Most especially the speed of the game has changed in ways that make much of these collisions much more violent. The NFL has to put some controls on the game or it will burn itself out.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:00pm

The more stuff the comes out, the less harsh the penalties seem. How's Loomis get off with only 8 games when he was the GM overseeing the whole team and had promised the NFL the bounties were history? Pretty clear from these tapes Williams wasn't trying to keep it a secret from anybody.

And the guy who's really going to have to work on his story is Payton. He's been trying to sort of halfway take responsibility while still claiming he never lied to the league about anything but he distance he's been trying to create between himself and the bounties gets smaller with every new revelation. They were such an open topic Williams wasn't afraid to reference them in front of a guy making a documentary while Payton's friend/agent was funding them. Not plausible for him to pretend he wasn't completely in the know.

by RickD :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:52pm

Based on the quotes, I'd be hard-pressed to see any end to the Williams' suspension.

“We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake-ass prima donna or he wants to be a tough guy. We need to find that out, and he becomes human when you [expletive] take out that outside ACL.”

At that point, Williams turned his attention to Gore and Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, saying, “We need to decide on how many times we can meet Frank Gore’s head. We need to decide how many times we can bull rush and we can [expletive] clip Vernon Davis’ ankles over the pile … respect comes from them fearing us.”

There's no place for this in the NFL. Not for targeting ACLs and heads and ankles.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:06pm

He should probably work on his anatomy, too. There is no "outside" ACL.

by akn :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:03pm

That caught my eye as well. I wonder if Williams thought the "inside ACL" was going too far.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:55pm

The video supposedly shows Williams specifically instructing players to target Alex Smith's head as well. The video. Shot by the filmmaker Williams knew was in the room. This may be the dumbest twelve letter maternal carnal relations specialist to ever be employed by an NFL team. I only say "may" on the off chance that it is established that Payton knew that Williams was issuing such instructions, while Payton wasn't reading his e-mails from his embezzlin' fool of an agent, letting the digital world know that the embezzlin' fool was contributing to the bounty pool.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:06pm

Hearing this made me very angry, I'd go as far as furious before I calmed down a little. What really drew my ire was the 'take out that outside ACL' remark. How would a Saints fan feel if somebody took out Drew Brees' knee with intent?

However, I am also pretty certain that speeches like this can probably be heard in many locker rooms around the NFL. It's a sad fact that there's a very nasty side to the game we love. Goodell could have a lengthy fight on his hands to reform the game as he is taking on the money that comes from winning and production.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:39pm

The only thing that makes me feel better is that I have this notion that Saints player didn't actually listen to the guy. They didn't do the things he told them to do, presumably because they were too smart to fall for his crap.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by tunesmith :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:06pm

I guess I'm glad that the blowback from this might curtail some of that bravado from DCs in the future.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:24pm

I wonder how widespread it is.

Josh Sitton, who I will point out has a bit of a reputation for being nasty, was tweeting about this https://twitter.com/#!/jsitton71

@jasonjwilde Gregg Williams sounds like a complete douche asshole. Glad he got suspended!"

@bernardshuford: @jsitton71 Holy cow, dude. That guy needs help. Do Packers coaches talk like that to you guys?”hell no

@jasonjwilde I want to be clear. Our sport is violent and you are supposed to hurt one another, but this guy took it over the top!

@jasonjwilde trying to take someone out of a game or end a career is a chicken shit move!

@jasonjwilde we work our entire lives to make it to the NFL. And some guy wants to pay players to hurt people. NOT cool!

@jasonjwilde next thing you know some asshole will be waiting for me by my car with a crowbar! That's some Tonya Harding shit!

That second tweet makes it clear that at least the coaches an offensive lineman for the Packers hears don't talk like Williams did. So while it still may be very common, it's not happening everywhere.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 12:45pm

Yeah...while it's impossible for us to know what goes on in a locker room when the microphones and cameras aren't around, I can believe that there are players and coaches who think like Williams but also that there are plenty who are repulsed by him. I just don't know how many are on each side.

I don't think any of us would feel good about our favorite teams being involved in calculated attempts to injure other players. Sure, the game is inherently dangerous to some degree, and you can inflict a lot of harm on someone with a perfectly clean hit. As a Bears fan I have always liked the way they emphasize taking the ball away rather than putting big hits on people (of course, I don't know what their locker room is like and I can't claim that they're all clean players and coaches); to me the best part of that kind of defense is that there's no moral ambiguity whatsoever. A player who's focusing on picking off a throw or forcing a fumble is focusing on winning the game rather than injuring somebody.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 3:18pm

Yep. I also know it's very much a coaching staff thing too. The 1980's Forrest Gregg Packers did do stuff like Williams preached, I have my delusions about the organization but some of the history is pretty ugly. I'm glad things have shifted.

I also have to agree with your assessment of the Bears D. As much as I hate watching the Pack have to play against it, I do feel they generally are within the "spirit" of the game. They just want to beat you down by out manning you.

I'm not so sure they are as turnover focused as you are claiming though. They just seem to generally be more fundamentally focused. The fumbles they cause are from good form and you see a lot of helmet on the ball (one of the best ways to jar it loose) which means it's not helmet on the helmet. I hated watching the Packers approach of trying to club the ball out and in so doing not being able to execute the tackle. The interceptions are taking advantages of the opportunities the scheme they play provides. Cover 2 is fundamentally zone coverage, it means the ball is generally in front of you and you usually will have help behind you so a mistake by the offense is easier to capitalize on, but you can get shredded by precision (which is what has happened in the early in the game and sometimes early 3rd quarter to them recently against the Packers). But in the end the coaching staff has consistently been able to drill fundamentals into that defense.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 4:15pm

I think the Bears really are focused specifically on stripping the ball. Occasionally, this focus comes at expense of good tackling because a player appears to let the guy run and extra four or five yards because his principal goal is to getting ball out rather than the knee down. This has been more an issue with CBs than anyone else.

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 1:31pm

Part of my assessment of the Bears as turnover-focused comes from listening to Lovie Smith say in pretty much every single interview/press conference that the Bears are turnover-focused. :) I agree that on the field it's partly about trying to take the ball away and partly about fundamentals and coverage. In any case, I like the approach.

by Deelron :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:26pm

" What really drew my ire was the 'take out that outside ACL' remark. How would a Saints fan feel if somebody took out Drew Brees' knee with intent?"

I suspect that they will be finding out this season.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 5:40pm

I really hope not, he's a wonderful player and I enjoy watching him. Two wrongs don't make a right.

by Marko :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:23pm

"How would a Saints fan feel if somebody took out Drew Brees' knee with intent?"

I was wondering how a Saints player would feel if the opposing team did to them the same things that Williams was advocating. Or how a former Saints player would feel when playing the Saints if Williams were still there. Or how a Saints player would feel if the opposing player they were targeting was a friend or even a relative of his. Just think if Williams coached Tampa Bay and made that speech a few years ago before a game against the Giants. How would Ronde Barber feel if one of the targets was Tiki Barber?

Of course, while this speech certainly is repulsive and definitely crosses the line between legitimate and illegitimate tactics, I completely agree with your second paragraph.

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 12:14pm

Here's some support that Williams' rant is not usual in the NFL:


by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:15pm

What a scumball. Maybe it seems arbitrary, but there seems a pretty clear line to me between the usual "We're gonna go out there and hit them in the mouth, make them feel the pain!" and "blow out his ACL". The latter has a disturbingly personal and targeted aspect.

Good luck appealing that suspension now, Payton.

by Theo :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:47pm

Exactly what I am thinking too.
I coach defense myself and never promote injuries. Hard? Yes. As hard as you can? Yes. Twist knees, feet or aim for legs with the goal of injuring people? No.
But I don't get it - why didn't he just say
"first player to the QB grabs his facemask and twists it sideways, then you grab his foot and you rotate it 3 times counter clockwise and jump on his knee for good measure". I mean - let a 3rd stringer do it and he's ejected. Good trade off vs their starting QB.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:08am

James Harrison, in-eloquent as he usually is, actually made a pretty good distinction a while back between trying to hurt people (causing them pain) and trying to injure people (causing them appreciable damage).

"I don't want to see anyone injured, but I'm not opposed to hurting anyone. There's a difference. When you're injured, you can't play. But when you're hurt, you can shake it off and come back."

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:29pm

How much more blatant could they get? And the part that I really don't understand is how Williams could think these paltry little bounties would be a major incentive for a playoff game. Like he was worried his guys weren't going to try hard enough without it. And he talks like he was anticipating multiple guys getting carried off on stretchers. He sounds delusional.

by strannix (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:52pm

The money's just a trophy, like stickers on a helmet. I imagine that it's the tanglible personal recognition that serves as motivation more than the actual cash per se.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:33pm

Maybe in a regular season game, but this was the playoffs. If a coach doesn't believe his guys can get up for a playoff game, it's a sad commentary. I somehow doubt college coaches use helmet stickers as a major incentive before a BCS bowl.

by strannix (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:26pm

I dunno. Maybe that helmet sticker you earn in a bowl game means that much more.

I mean, I get your point. But it seems to me that human nature being what it is, when the stakes get higher, the rewards mean even more.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 6:15pm

I think you think human nature is far, far simpler and more rational than I think it is.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 1:44am


by markus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:31pm

Pushing bounties in a must-win game makes no sense in general and in that playoff game versus the Niners it was even dumber. The Saints knew their offense was awesome and that the Niners would struggle to stop them. In a situation like that, a smart defensive plan would have been to avoid dumb penalties and try to limit big plays. Screaming at your guys to go out and hit the QB in the head and pick up an automatic personal foul for doing so is asinine.

by usernaim250 :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 5:13pm

Worth noting GW's defenses gave up 420 yds/gm on their Super Bowl run, and were one of only four teams to give up over 400 to the 49ers, so it would be hard to claim his methods worked.

by Dan :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 6:18pm

Are you saying that his methods were unsound?

by Will Allen :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:48pm

Williams specifically instructs his players to violate the rules of the game, in order to injure opposing players, and promises to compensate players in a non-transparent fashion if they do so. I still think a lifetime ban could give rise to an antitrust lawsuit, so it won't likely happen, but I've got to believe he's finished. Does Tom Benson prefer coaches who have been lobotomized? This moron knows that his remarks are being filmed, and this is what he chooses to do? Because he has some expectation the filmmaker will maintain confidentiality? It defies description.

If evidence is developed that Payton knew that Williams was instructing players to violate the rules of the game, to inflict head injuries, in the context of Payton's embezzlin' fool of an agent contributing to the bounty pool (I know, I know, Ol' Sean doesn't read his e-mails), then Payton has gotta get clipped for more than a year, as well. Can you imagine this stupid lump of feces up on the witness stand, in front of a jury, during the trial phase of concussion class action suit?

by Purds :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:03pm

Even if the NFL wanted to strip the Saints of the SB, the outcome of such an act would be such a disaster for them that they can't do it. For example, do you just have a year with no SB champ? And, if so, the natural question is: "Why don't you have a champ for back in 2009?" The answer is one they don't want to emphasize, but to mitigate.

Then, you can't just give the SB title to some other team. Not only is it wrong (Who knows who would have won the SB if NO had lost to Minny?), but even in the last game, against my beloved Colts, I don't remember NO playing dirty in that game. So, the crimes that would make sense to void them of the Minny win, well, they don't apply to the Colts SB game. My remembrance of that game, aside from my team losing, are that it was a great game, nothing like the dirty NO/Minny game earlier in the playoffs.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:19pm

I remember thinking the first time I heard the Matt Walsh allegations (which, of course were basically proven to not be true) that the Pats taped the Rams walkthrough, I thought that I would not be against stripping them of that title, because that was a definite illegal attempt to gain a competitive advantage. To me, only such things merit stripping titles.

This other stuff is against hte rules, against the integrity of the game, but probably had less direct impact on the game (not less than Spygate, but less than the untrue allegations). To me, stripping this would be as pointless as vacating wins in college sports. It is amazing that if Mario Chalmers just missed that three, the Memphis National Championship would be vacated. It's not like anyone will just think Memphis didn't win (or didn't go to the Final 4, as it were) and the reasons definitely don't outweigh that punishment.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:16pm

Annot strip saints super nowl win . Gamr was played. We watched it. They played im Super Boel and won . End of story. It happrned. Cannot go nack in time and change it. Just like cannot go back and change Titanic hittong iceberg or cannot go bacl and make Barroid only hit 26 home runs in year when hit 73.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:20pm

Or put the Sierra Nevada back in the bottle after drinking it.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 2:25pm

Yes fthat ia right. Don't see good purpose when bcaa strip teams of wins or Bush of Heisman. See the reason for it but again do not see a good rwason.

Begter to give sanctions to ncaa teamss or with pro twams finethem and take away draft picks

by Solomon :: Fri, 04/13/2012 - 9:32am

I agree -- the Super Bowl win should stand (and I am a Colts fan).

Furthermore, the NCAA should stop its ridiculous practice of vacating wins. Fine the schools and/or reduce scholarships, but do not take any victories that everyone knows happened.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:03am

In some ways it doesn't matter what the league says anyway. Football is a game played according to an understood set of rules. If what took place is something sufficiently different from the understood rules, then it wasn't a football game, and hence could not have determined a champion regardless of what the NFL wishes had happened. I'm not saying I agree with the idea that NO deviated sufficiently to make the game void, but there is an important distinction between events that happened, events that were perceived to have happened with imperfect information, and events that some governing body claimed happened. A good example in another sport is the 1972 Olympic basketball gold medal. The IOC can officially designate the USSR the winner until it's metaphorical face turns blue, but no amount of such claims can cause the USSR actually to have won that game.

by Olbermann For President (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:57pm

It would have been nice if a Saints player asked, "Is the answer, Jesus?" Paul Newman's delivery in Slap Shot was much better.

by Sifter :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 5:59pm

Lol at all the rugby 'experts' in this thread. Go and watch a game of rugby LEAGUE and then tell me that the players there never line up and run hard at each other...The whole game is based on collisions and busting through the defensive line, unlike rugby UNION which is all about scrums, rucks and kicking... Anyway, the important difference is the ruling of being tackled and the emphasis on yardage. NFL players can launch recklessly and still 'tackle' the ball carrier because they just need his knee to touch the ground. In rugby league the player needs to be HELD on the ground for a tackle to take place. That rule alone, makes players use better tackling technique. The argument for why that can't work in NFL is because of yardage, but why couldn't a new set of rules give an offense 4 downs and 15 yards, compensating for a new 'ball carrier must be held to complete tackle' rule. Just an idea, that may not be 'football' anymore according to those traditionalists...

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 6:02pm

Football used to have that rule. It occurred during one of the high points in injury rates. Turns out that it just encouraged piling on.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:12pm

Seriously don't listen to him, under no circumstances watch a game of rugby league. It's just awful (and that's coming from someone from the north of england).

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 6:01pm

LOL too bad the niners knocked the crap out of the saints that game!

Seriously... the niners were knocking the crap out of the saints. Every play every time they were bringing the wood. Mostly clean shots too... I attribute this to the niners defenders, almost to a man, constantly being in the right position (beating their blocker) and to being excellent tacklers (Willis, Bowman, Gholdson)

Doesn't mean though that they didn't ring a few Saints' bells. Pierre Thomas anyone?

What do you think niners coordinators said before the game? "Hey go easy on them guys! Don't do anything that might hurt them!"

Williams crossed the line, that's for sure. He is probably the tip of the iceberg though like others have said.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 9:27am

A lot of people (not here) are saying---well, coaches just say "injure" the other guy, but don't really mean it, and it's hard to execute such an instruction. I find most alarming Williams' very specific instructions for how to injure, quotes which are mostly going ignored.

He says of Gore:

"Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head."

Williams is here taking into account the fact that brain trauma does not necessarily result from a single great impact. It's cumulative. He is here instructing his players to take advantage of what Malcolm Gladwell described in his article on concussions: "But a football player’s real issue isn’t simply with repetitive concussive trauma. It is, as the concussion specialist Robert Cantu argues, with repetitive subconcussive trauma. It’s not just the handful of big hits that matter. It’s lots of little hits, too."

Williams is telling his players to add up the hits---after the whistle---in order to mentally disable Gore.

by Alex51 :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 1:42am

He says of Gore:

"Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head."

What's particularly sickening about this is that this wouldn't really do all that much to help the Saints, but it would do a lot of harm to Gore. I mean, you're unlikely to cause enough brain damage with repetitive subconcussive trauma to actually make Gore a much less effective RB in that game. It's not like he's going to develop symptoms of dementia in the course of a single football game (and it's not like RB is a position that really requires a great deal of intelligence). But he might develop dementia years from now, after his playing days, in part because of minor hits like the ones Williams is calling for. He should get a lifetime ban.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 12:29pm

Any rumors to the effect that Gregg Williams put a bounty on Trayvon Martin are completely without foundation.

by Purds :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 6:54pm

This would be funny in a while, but right now -- too soon.

by dbirtchnell (not verified) :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 4:20pm

I haven't got the time to read all 106 prior comments, so I'll just say this:

The Saints committed ZERO penalties in that Niners game. None. Nada. Zilch. No players were fined after the game for illegal hits.

Instructions, intent and what actually happened are completely different things.

Williams should get banned for life, but this new evidence shouldn't affect the team or any players given that no 'intentional' injuries or illegal hits actually happened during the game.