Audio that came out Thursday of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, suspended following news of his involvement as a ring leader in the Saints' Bountygate, is quite damning.
First reported by Mike Silver of Yahoo!, the sound of Williams talking to his defense the night before the Saints took on the 49ers is vulgar, graphic, hurtful and not completely unexpected if you've been following the story. It's not completely unexpected if you follow football, either.
Williams will likely never work again in the NFL.
It's one thing to know a bounty existed under his authority and approval, but to hear Williams specifically talk about injuring players—going so far as to suggest hitting certain body parts—is certainly more difficult for people to comprehend.
His words are compounded by the lies the Saints told the NFL offices and the sheer defiance in the league's order to stop the alleged bounty program before the playoffs last season.
Having said that, if you gauge the reaction from former players on Twitter and TV, Williams's comments recorded during a Saturday night pregame meeting aren't out the ordinary. It seems that kind of talk happens everywhere.
Darren Woodson said on SportsCenter he is disappointed in Williams calling out specific players and body parts to attack, but later admitted that he has been in meetings where coaches have told his squad to target a player's head in an effort to knock him out just like Williams.
It's awful, but it happens. To think Williams is the first (or only) defensive coach to call for a player's head is incredibly naïve.
The fact so many fans and pundits are outraged at Williams isn't a surprise. He sounds like a profane sociopath. If the recording was taken in a board room, Williams might be thrown in jail. The thing is, Williams is not a corporate vice president. He's a football coach. (Well, he was).
Football coaches, especially defensive coaches, are whackjobs. Whackjobs, I tell you. Their brains are wired differently. The idea of going out on the field to "kill that quarterback" or, as Williams said, "kill Frank Gore's head" doesn't sound any different than so many other coaches in the sport talking about their teams stopping an opponent.
Is it terrible? Of course it's terrible, and it's compounded by the fact Williams, Sean Peyton and other Saints officials were reportedly rewarding players with cash incentives to "kill" the other team. The whole situation is a black eye for the NFL.
But let's not kid ourselves into thinking this doesn't happen in other NFL locker rooms. Or college. Or high school.
How many high school coaches have speeches that include hurting, maiming or killing the other team? Half? More? Williams is the face of the NFL's current nightmare, but he is just the guy who got caught, not the only one in the sport doing it.
Again, none of this is brought up to dissuade fans and pundits from being horrified by Williams' words. Rather, it just highlights the point that being horrified shows how little NFL fans (or any football fans) want to know about how the game's proverbial sausage is made.
Bounties have become the pink slime of the NFL.
We find the product palatable and irresistible—as long as you don't tell us how you make it that good. When we find out, we become collectively horrified.
Of course, it's not going to make us stop buying the product. We're just a little more horrified to consume it.
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