It comes as absolutely no surprise that the night before the final game of the season, Gregg Williams was offering up bounties to New Orleans Saints defensive players.
What’s stunning though is the NFL was deep into its investigation of the Saints and had already contacted the team when Williams made a fiery speech to his players, audio of which was uncovered by Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports via documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who was present for the meeting with cameras. Williams implored his players to put shots on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and the insinuation was made Williams was paying for the first shot.
Pamphilon said: “At one point Williams says, ‘We hit (expletive) Smith right there’ – then he points under his chin (and says) – ‘remember me.’ Then he rubs his thumb against his index and middle fingers – the cash sign – and says, ‘I got the first one. I got the first one. Go get it. Go lay that (expletive) out.’
You can listen to the speech here on Pamphilon’s Web site. It’s full of profanity as you might imagine.
“We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head,” Williams told the players. “We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways.”
“We’re gonna swarm. We’re gonna dominate the line of scrimmage. And we’re gonna kill the (expletive) head. Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head … continue to touch and affect the head.”
Pamphilon said Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis, who have both been suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, were not present for the meeting. But this audio certainly won’t help the Saints in an appeal process which will play out today. The Saints were instructed, before this game, to cease any bounty programs and here’s clear evidence it was still going on.
Payton and Loomis lacked control of what was going on and explaining this in appealing to Goodell will be difficult if not impossible.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune