If you didn't learn from what you saw the New Orleans Saints do to Kurt Warner in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs, then you surely got the message in the NFC Championship game, where the Saints defense, coordinated by Gregg Williams, tee'd off on it's second future Hall of Famer in as many weeks.
And regardless of whether or not you found yourself disgusted by the blatant late hits and un-called penalties that this "style" of defense brought on, perhaps Williams' latest comments should change your perspective.
Williams was recently quoted in saying that Peyton Manning ""This guy's got a great clock in his head. The big thing is that he throws the ball so early that we're going to have to do a good job of finding ways to get to him and when we do get to him we're going to have to make sure he gets a couple 'remember me' shots when we get there."
"When we do get to him, we're going to make sure we have a couple of 'remember me' shots when we get there," Williams told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. "Great defenses have to be feared."
In other words, like it or not New Orleans fans, your coordinator and your defense are officially, and not quietly, playing dirty football.
This is even more disturbing news after the head referee for the NFC Championship game, Mike Pereira, admitted that he and his officials missed a below-the-knee hit on Brett Favre (a.k.a, the "Tom Brady" rule), in which Favre threw a pick that ended a drive deep in Saints territory and knocked Favre out of the game.
However, much to Williams' dismay, Favre did return and finished a heroic effort, despite coming up on the losing end.
Now, with everything coming to light, and the visible evidence (on tape, mind you) that the Saints were trying to knock quarterbacks out of the game in successive weeks, Saints (and NFL fans) have to ask themselves two questions:
First, is it okay to publicly admit that your intentions aren't just to defeat a team (or a passer) or merely rattle them, but more, to send them out on a stretcher?
And secondly, is this mildly coined "overly aggressive" defense basically a group of misfits orchestrated by a savage play-caller who is merely calling out the dogs on the league's top quarterbacks?
And to that, I ask, why isn't (or hasn't) the NFL taking action?
No one can take away the Saints effort on both sides of the ball and the fact that they're in the Super Bowl.
But is it really unruly to say that they've gotten to their first Super Bowl in franchise history based on an immoral concept?
And considering NFL rules on the matter, is it wrong to think that this team has skated by and caused too much damage without enough repercussions?
Perhaps Saints fans will never see it that way, and really, who can expect them to?
But if/when Peyton Manning goes down, clutching his knees or ankles in the Super Bowl, after taking late hit after late hit, will this defense finally be exposed as the cowardly group that it's appearing to be?
This writer suggests that, if we haven't come to the conclusion that something is wrong with this picture, then we never will.
But just because the general consensus "doesn't care" or doesn't find anything wrong with the Saints approach, that doesn't make it right.
Peyton Manning and the Colts may not have an opinion on the matter quite yet. But something tells me their stance will change come Super Bowl Sunday.
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