The New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal went from bad to ugly Thursday after audio clips of a team meeting in San Francisco surfaced on the Internet.
In the recording, then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams urges his players to injure Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams on the eve of the team’s NFC playoff showdown with the 49ers on Jan. 14.
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“We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head,” Williams said in the recording. “We want him running sideways. We want his head
The speech was recorded by documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who was filming a movie about former Saints special teams player Steve Gleason, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to Yahoo Sports.
The tape surfaced just hours before coach Sean Payton met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to appeal a one-year suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program. Williams, who was hired by the
St. Louis Rams in January, is suspended indefinitely.
When news of the program first broke, many NFL players responded with indifference. Even former quarterback Brett Favre, the target of the most notorious alleged bounty during the 2010 NFC Championship Game, told Sports Illustrated, “It’s football.”
But the recording suggests that Williams wasn’t just paying for hard hits, he was instructing his players to induce head injuries at a time when the NFL is grappling with how to reduce the prevalence of concussions in the league.
“Kill the head and the body will die,” he said, adding later in the recording: “We’re going to 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. ... Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head.”
At one point, Williams told his team to go after Niners wide receiver Kyle Williams, who had suffered a concussion a few weeks earlier.
“We need to find out in the first two series of the game — the little wide receiver, No. 10 — about his concussion. We need to [expletive] put a lick on him,” he said.
According to Yahoo Sports, Williams made a hand gesture (rubbing his thumb against his index and forefinger) indicating that he’d pay a bounty to anyone who could “lay out” Smith.
Williams also asked his players to inflict a knee injury on wide receiver Crabtree.
“He becomes human when we [expletive] take out that outside ACL,” he said.