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Saints Coach Gregg Williams: Really?

April 5, 2012

Last month, I wrote about the Saints’ bounty pool and the damage it could cause to the N.F.L.’s nascent efforts to emphasize player safety, especially in regards to concussions. Generally, bounty pools obviously reduce player safety and the Saints’ pool came at a horrible time, as the league has finally come around to the long-term effects of the game on its players.

Well, a recently released tape (audio) just added a whole lot of fuel to that fire. The tape was recorded the night before the Saints’ playoff game against the 49ers in January. In it, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encourages his players to injure specific Niners, among them Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and Kendall Hunter. The most damning quotes are about the 49ers’ wide receivers. About Kyle Williams: “We need to find out in the first two series of the game, that little wide receiver, No. 10, about his concussion. We need to f—— put a lick on him right now.” And Michael Crabtree: “We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake-ass prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy. We need to find out. He becomes human when we f—— take out that outside ACL.” The comments about the WR Williams are especially troublesome, as concussions are at the center of the N.F.L.’s safety efforts.

It seems pretty clear now that (coach) Williams won’t be working in the N.F.L. anymore, and that’s a good thing. Perhaps this happens in every locker room around the league, at least to some degree, but this type of talk shouldn’t be the norm. N.F.L. players make an unrecoverable investment in the game with their bodies – if you play in the N.F.L., you’re going to die younger. The league’s coaches and players as well as its rules should try to make that investment less costly, or else the league itself may die.

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