The latest allegations against the Saints regarding Mickey Loomis’ alleged access to a special listening device that allowed him to eavesdrop on the conversations of opposing coaches are murky at best. With little information, a string of assumptions based on the undying urge to speculate can lead to unintelligent conclusions. We can’t assume guilt due to a lack of evidence, but we also can’t blindly assume innocence because of the impossible logistics of Loomis relaying play calls.
But here’s another Saints related conclusion leap that feels pretty safe: they were damn grimy under Gregg Williams. There’s an audio tape to prove that, but as the bountygate stories keep flowing, the depth of Williams’ arrogance grows.
The latest tale comes from Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, who told NFL.com’s Dave Dameshek that a Saints player was rather blunt with him about the bounties.
From Gregg Rosenthal:
“I actually had an altercation with a guy who told me firsthand,” Smith said Tuesday. “I was going out of bounds, and the guy went for my ankle. I said, ‘Hey, man, cut that out.’ He’s like, ‘Well, we get fined if we don’t go after your legs when you go out of bounds.’ … And actually this past year, this last game when we played them, I had a little conversation with Gregg Williams. … He took responsibility, he was saying it wasn’t right, but that’s who he was.”
So there was clear direction to injure, payments for injuries, and punishments for overt cowardice when an opportunity to injure presented itself. Slick.
Smith’s comments directly contradict the statement from Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt, who said during his press conference today that players never “crossed the white line” with a pre-meditated intention to injure a member of the opposition.
And they support the comments Roger Goodell made when he was a guest on Rich Eisen’s most recent podcast. The commissioner who’s preparing to finally announce the punishments for Saints players said that each individual embraced the bounty program, didn’t stand up to Williams, and enthusiastically dumped money into the bounty scheme. While they may have indeed been following orders, that defense alone won’t fly in Goodell’s court.
What’s worse is that even when confronted by Smith–a target whose ankles were in the Saints’ crosshairs–there wasn’t even an attempt at a denial. Williams gave the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug.