NFLPA Had Knowledge of Controversial Gregg Williams Tapes Prior to Release

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 18:  Scott Fujita #55 of the New Orleans Saints runs onto the field after being introduced prior to playing the New York Giants at the Louisiana Superdome on October 18, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It turns out the tape of Gregg Williams urging his defensive players to attack certain San Francisco 49ers with reckless abandon before a recent playoff game was given to the Players Association ahead of time by former New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports Fujita, who currently plays for the Cleveland Browns, will likely be among the players facing discipline due to the bounty scandal. Mortensen states the union plans on using the tape to their advantage to fight any punishment:

A union source would not disclose if the NFLPA had physical copies of the video and audio tapes but confirmed that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and union lawyers had discussed the merits of using Williams' speech as a strategy to dissuade Goodell from handing down stiff penalties that could include suspensions to Saints' players.

The players would argue that although Williams—whom the NFL had already suspended indefinitely for his role in the bounty scandal—tried to push his players to extremes, the lack of injuries would prove they didn't take his speech literally.

Even though the NFL doesn't have copies of the tapes, the report says the league already knew about the comments Williams made before the playoff game and already questioned him about the incident.

It's another example of a growing divide between the league and its Players Association concerning the bounty issue. If punishments are indeed handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell, the union is expected to fight them using the tapes that Fujita made available.

Upwards of 20 players are in danger of facing some sort of disciplinary action, according to the report.

An official decision from the league about the severity of those punishments could come as early as this week.