Gregg Williams Should Be Banned from the Game; It May Be the Only Way to Save It

Paul WardContributor IIIMarch 5, 2012

Gregg Williams, at New Orleans
Gregg Williams, at New OrleansChris Graythen/Getty Images

By Louisiana law, bounty hunters must let the local police know their intentions—if apprehension is in a private residence. But does that include a residence big enough for 76,468?

Bounty hunters also have to wear the name of the bail bond company during apprehension. That name, and you may not always be able to read it as they cart you off the field, is former New Orleans Saints and current St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

I know. He’s just the one that got caught. And he's a swell guy; ask anybody that played for him. There may be some others who didn’t play for him who aren’t so happy, but that’s the game. You don’t like it, don’t play. And don’t tell me that we’re all just trying to make a living out here; we’ve all got wives and children. Doesn’t matter. Winning is the only ticket.

And anyway what's the big deal? Always was, is and will be. That’s the theology, that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why if you do well in Pop Warner, you get a Big Mac on the way home.  

That’s what the high school coach meant when he said, “now today gentlemen you all gonna give 120 percent.” That’s why they put those stickers on your helmet in college.

So what if somebody puts together a pool? Maybe it comes from fines, maybe from a collection plate. A little motivation never hurt anybody. Particularly for kids just coming in. Think of it as a touch of Marxism; big hits will set you free.

Even for a player making the median salary of $770,000, a few extra bucks goes a long way. You always have to remember the career window is only ever open a few inches.

Remember also the menu: $1,000 for cart-offs, which is when the player raises two fingers, to let you know they're alive; $1,500 for knockouts, which is when there’s no movement at all; $400 for a special teams hit. These are some of the numbers mentioned lately.

Denver Bronco defensive end Trevor Pryce was quoted in the New York Times on Sunday as saying that he remembers teammates bringing pencil and paper to every game to keep track of monies they might make.

“It’s pretty much standard operating procedure. It makes our special teams better. I know dudes who doubled their salary from it. Trust me it happens in some for in any locker room. It’s like a democracy, the inmates governing themselves.”

Which is an interesting take, a Freudian slip perhaps, on the inmates-running-the-asylum metaphor. 

And then you have Pittsburgh Steeler safety Ryan Clark saying that whoever turned tattle with NFL investigators “should be ashamed.”

That’s right, because football is like a fraternity and you don’t want to rat out on the brothers. 

How do you make the point strongly enough?

The reason that "Bountygate" is different from Spygate is the difference between felony and misdemeanor, between Monica Lewinsky-gate and Watergate.

It may be hard to accept this, but Bountygate is a huge deal—especially when you consider it as part of a larger safety issue that includes recent revelations about the nature of concussions, the related civil suits pending against the league, player suicides and the Ndamukong Suh episode.

Today, the league held an informal meeting with Mr. Williams. Not a hearing, a meeting. What will come of that? Big words, not much action. A suspension, perhaps. 

Here’s what needs to happen: Williams should be banned from the game. General manager Mickey Loomis: banned from the game. Sean Payton: suspended for an entire season. Huge fines for every team where this has happened.

Don't go after players so much as the culture: the coaches, managers and owners who permitted this. 

And what about the NFL front office? They’ve known about this since 2010, according to Roger Goodell (via What will be their punishment?

Nothing. They’re betting this will blow over.

That’s a problem because what’s happening is that the NFL has lost control of the game. The safety issue is bigger than they think. Just wait until a superstar at the beginning of his career is carted off, for good. Manning may have been forced out because of this stuff, but it’s too late to make a difference.

But what if you had somebody like, God forbid, Andrew Luck getting a career-ending hit in his first year? Or RGIII. And let’s say it was a dirty hit; imagine the ripple effect that would have.

Would that get the league's attention?                  

It’s not a question of "that’s the way it’s always been; you don’t like it, don’t play." The bottom line is that this sport will not survive if it’s not protected, if it's not cleaned up and restored to its former glory, or at the least the way we imagine that glory.