Gregg Williams has admitted to organizing a bounty program with the Saints. That’s common knowledge, and it has been since Friday when Williams issued a very blunt, and surprisingly sincere public statement in the hours after BountyGate first surfaced.
That’s the only Williams truth that’s certain right now. To uncover his past beyond New Orleans we’re relying on statements from former players, and each player has either a vested interest, a foggy memory, or both.
First there was Matt Bowen’s now famous confession, in which he documented in detail the system Williams used during his time as Washington’s defensive coordinator. Bowen described it as simply being a monetary incentive for players driven by clean hits, but there was no malicious intent. Regardless, for him the bounty existed, and it wasn’t a concealed or particularly guarded secret in the Redskins locker room.
London Fletcher was either in a different locker room, or he knew an entirely different Williams. Fletcher is still with the Redskins as a respected veteran linebacker, and he also played for Williams when he was in Buffalo, and Williams was the head coach.
Fletcher said that he wasn’t aware of a system that rewarded defensive players for injuring opponents in either Buffalo or Washington.
From the DC Sports Bog:
“He was my head coach in Buffalo, my defensive coordinator in Washington. I’ve known him for over 10 years. I was extremely shocked to hear his role in this whole bounty thing, because never at any point in time through the course of my relationship with Gregg Williams — either as my head coach or my defensive coordinator in Washington — did he ever get in front of us as a group and say I’m gonna give you X amount of dollars to go out and injure a player. He never did that, nor has any other coach that I’ve ever played for ever done that.”
Fletcher acknowledged the existence of an incentive pool in which players were handed cash for interceptions, sacks, key tackles, etc. That’s still illegal, but it doesn’t involve the intentional breaking of bones for monetary gain.
Steve Jackson, a former Redskins assistant coach who worked alongside Williams, echoed Fletcher’s words while speaking to The Associated Press:
“If the game was on the line and we had to kick off there would be players that would come into the special teams huddle and say, `If you get a tackle inside the 20-yard line, hey, that’s 500 bucks.’ And they would do the same thing in practice and everything. It was just the culture. Players trying to get each other motivated.”
Although still deemed illegal by NFL rules, rewarding key plays is innocent and harmless. Football players may be finely tuned athletic machines, but in some small sense their mentality after a job well done is no different than the mindset of the average office worker. Merely completing the job isn’t sufficient, as the worker needs public acknowledgment from his superiors, and his peers.
The problem begins when that performance-based reward becomes a gateway to something larger, and something much more malicious.
And the rest…
- The Randy Moss workout tour will begin in New Orleans, where Marques Colston and Robert Meachem are likely in their final days of employment as Saints. Moss’ more realistic role in New Orleans is to be a very, very welcome distraction from both BountyGate, and the stalled Drew Brees contract negotiations. [National Football Post]
- Oh and about that Brees disaster, he’s kind of unhappy. In fact, some may describe him as “livid.” [Larry Holder]
- Sean Payton may not have been directly involved in BountyGate, and he didn’t organize the bounties. But he bears some degree of responsibility because he’s still the head coach, and therefore the overlord of all football activities in New Orleans. However, his punishment shouldn’t be stretched to its extreme, and he shouldn’t lose his job. [Mike Triplett]
- Saints owner Tom Benson hasn’t wavered in his support of Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis. [Pat Yasinskas]
- The reaction to the Saints’ bounties has been mixed, with some players shrugging off their presence in the game, while others pointed out the obvious stupidity in an era where player safety is being heavily monitored. Eli Manning sides with the latter group, saying that there should be more respect, and that bounties “can’t be part of football.” [New York Daily News]
- Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will be candidates for the Madden ’13 cover, an experience that nearly landed Peyton Hillis in the CIA. [Cincy Jungle]
- The Forth Worth police department isn’t happy with Ben Roethlisberger after he failed to deliver on a grant promised prior to the 2011 Super Bowl. [Kens 5]
- Where do the Steelers go from here? [Total Steelers]
- If there’s any word I trust, it’s the word on the street. And that word is telling us that Matt Flynn wasn’t franchised yesterday because Green Bay couldn’t finalize a deal with either Cleveland or Miami. [Hogs Haven]
- San Diego didn’t tag Vincent Jackson, but general manager A.J. Smith said he still plans to pursue the wideout during free agency and make a long-term offer. The Bills are also expected to be aggressive, with Buffalo looking for a receiver to complement Stevie Johnson. [Kevin Acee]
- If the Bills are indeed interested in Jackson, their front office already has a significant connection to the soon-to-be free agent. [Buffalo Rumblings]
- Landry Jones regressed a bit during his junior year at Oklahoma, so his decision to stay in school for one more year seemed wise. But now that he’s admitted to receiving a first-round grade from the draft advisory board, he might have a lonely campus existence next fall after watching others cash in during a draft that’s thin at quarterback. [Mocking the Draft]