Thursday, April 05, 2012

Gregg Williams Speech Should End Saints Appeal of Bounty Bans

Thursday, the NFL is scheduled to hear appeals by the New Orleans Saints, general manager Mickey Loomis, assistant coach Joe Vitt, and head coach Sean Payton of their respective punishments from the bounty scandal that's been all the rage. The Saints took a fine and lost two draft picks. Loomis was suspended for half the upcoming season. Vitt got a six-game ban. Payton was suspended for a year.

Also suspended was former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has since moved on to the St. Louis Rams. Williams was suspended indefinitely -- he will miss at least the upcoming season before he can be reinstated.

After Wednesday's revelation, Williams should be informed he will never be welcome back in the league, and the Saints should just scrap the idea of trying to appeal these suspensions.

I'll let Mike Silver, the fine NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports, take it from here.

The night before Gregg Williams’ final game as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator, the since-suspended coach gave a fiery speech to the team’s defensive players during which he made specific references to inflicting physical punishment upon several San Francisco 49ers in a postseason game the next day.

In the speech at the team’s hotel near the San Francisco Airport, 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.

That's the G-rated stuff.

Simply ridiculous.

I know that the Saints weren't the first -- and likely won't be the last -- team to use a bounty system to fire up players or unite them or whatever stupid excuse you want to buy into.

But as I've said numerous times before in a number of different situations, "Everyone else is doing it" is no more an excuse for breaking the rules than ignorance -- "Oh, I didn't know that was against the rules" -- is.

You don't get to stand up and say you're not worthy of a severe punishment because others are breaking the same rule. It's that simple.

The Williams audio -- available here if you can stomach it -- flies against the spirit of competition, and it is as disrespectful as anything you'll ever hear when it comes to a coach trying to fire up his team.

The audio isn't damning of Loomis or Payton. Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who was working on a project featuring former Saint Steve Gleason, who now suffers from ALS, said Loomis and Payton weren't present for the meeting where this particular audio was recorded.

That said, this audio should end their appeals. The team was aware of the league investigation before this playoff game. The team was aware that there was a freaking filmmaker who had access to meetings and was recording them. In a move that reeks of the ultimate "You can't touch me" arrogance, the Saints continued to allow Williams to run roughshod, letting him deliver a speech that was at the height of insanity.

Loomis didn't do anything enough to stop the bounties. Payton didn't do anything enough to stop the bounties.

Now, it's clear Williams was not backing down, even faced with the strong possibility of getting caught. His indefinite ban should be turned into a permanent one, no matter how strongly he tries to speak out against this type of behavior. He did what he did, and then he delivered his own version of an "eff you" to the NFL by continuing the program amid the ongoing league investigation.

The NFL doesn't need to mess around with reinstating this guy. Send him into retirement, where he can think indefinitely about the strong reputation he tarnished when he crossed the line and started asking his players to hurt opponents for money.

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