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Thread: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

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    Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Burwell: Gregg Williams taking unfair hits

    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
    Friday, April 6, 2012

    The spin control on Bountygate has now reached the point of absurdity. Even now, weeks after Commissioner Roger Goodell handed out the severe penalties to the coaches and administrators of the New Orleans Saints for their roles in the Bountygate scandal, a lot of people are still busy miscasting Gregg Williams as the only bad guy in the entire sordid mess.

    Yeah, now we have recorded audio of Williams giving his players a pep talk spiced with the provocative language that proves he did everything the NFL charged him with. So Williams, who was supposed to be the Rams' defensive coordinator, is now suspended indefinitely as the league, the Saints and everyone else in pro football circles turns him into the Lee Harvey Oswald of the Bountygate conspiracy.

    But I'm not buying the lone wolf theory and neither should you.

    And while I hear people saying that the revelations of the existence of this tape recording — peppered with all that spicy language about knocking folks out, taking guys out and intimidating every opponent in sight — is supposed to be the final nail in Williams' coaching coffin, my reaction is dramatically different.

    How can this tape be the thing that forces Goodell to heap a lifetime ban on Williams? Unless I'm missing something, didn't the tape simply confirm every crime that Goodell already said he already knew Williams had perpetrated?

    The tape adds no new revelations, only additional confirmation. The only thing the tape does is conveniently provide the Saints coaches and general manager with an excuse to throw Williams under the bus as they attempt to receive some leniency from Goodell in their appeals hearing.

    Williams doesn't deserve to be piled on anymore, and everyone in the NFL needs to stop it, because it's not right. I don't know Williams at all. I don't know whether he's a good guy, a jerk or somewhere in between.

    But I do know this: he is not the man that the NFL is making him out to be.

    But since Williams isn't talking, we don't know how he feels about what people are saying about him. But a lot of other people are talking, and most of them are full of bogus spin control.

    Which ones?

    Anyone whose lips are moving.

    We begin with Goodell, who keeps telling us he's cracking down on this one rogue coach and this one rogue organization because he cares so deeply about the safety of his players. Of course this is the same guy who tried to get those players he cares so much about to agree to play an insane 18-game regular season, which would do more damage to an NFL player's health than a car wreck.

    And now the Saints are joining in on the scam. Clearly following the Goodell suggestion that Williams acted alone are Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton and former Rams interim head coach and current Saints defensive assistant Joe Vitt. They showed up at Goodell's office on Thursday for an appeal hearing to reduce their suspensions, and wasted no time throwing Williams under the bus.

    NFL Coaches Association executive director David Cornwell, who represented Vitt at the hearing, laid out the game plan when he met with reporters outside the NFL's New York offices. When a reporter asked if they were aware of the tapes that documentary film maker Sean Pamphilon released that recorded a speech Williams gave to his defense the night before last season's playoff game with San Francisco, Cornwell barely let the question finish.

    "We are absolutely aware of it and absolutely will comment on it because it's important to put this in context," Cornwell said. "I think it was around the Detroit game this year that the Saints were advised that the investigation had been reopened. Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton went to Gregg Williams and said: 'There's no place for this in this organization or in this league.'"

    And then came the bombshell.

    "And Sean will tell you that in his view that this was a rogue coach who knew he was about to get fired," said Cornwell. "... And the proof in the pudding is that this wasn't the only issue with Gregg Williams and this organization.. There were issues with the staff and other things. He was fired two days later. He was on his way out and in a few days he was fired."

    Well first of all, he wasn't getting fired. Williams intentionally let his contract expire so he would be a coaching free agent, because he knew his buddy Jeff Fisher was coming back into coaching this year and Williams wanted to be free to go with Fisher wherever he went.

    Second, according to the NFL's own investigation, neither Loomis nor Payton approached Williams and told him to knock it off. These aren't my words. These are the NFL's:

    • "In early 2010, Mr. Loomis advised Coach Payton that the league office was investigating allegations concerning a bounty program. . . Remarkably, Coach Payton claimed that he never inquired of Coach Williams and Coach Vitt as to what happened in the interviews, never asked them if a "pay-for-performance" or bounty program was in fact in place, and never gave any instructions to discontinue such a program."

    • "In January 2012, prior to the Saints' first playoff game of the 2011 season, Coach Payton was advised by Mr. Loomis that the league office had reopened the investigation. Coach Payton made a cursory inquiry but took no action to ensure that any bounty program was discontinued."

    • "Saints owner Tom Benson notified Mr. Loomis in January 2012 prior to the team's participation in the playoffs that the league's investigation had been reopened... (and) that a bounty program was unacceptable and instructed Mr. Loomis to ensure that if a bounty program existed at the Saints it would stop immediately. By his own admission, Mr. Loomis never issued instructions to end the bounty program to either the coaching staff or the players."

    And now comes this tape, that lays out the explicit language that Williams used in a defensive meeting before the San Francisco playoff game. I've been covering pro football more than 30 years, and the language I heard did not shock me. I have heard worse stuff coming out of the mouths of players and coaches. Football is an incredibly macho, overly aggressive blood sport played by super type-A personality men who are larger, faster, more physical and more athletic than normal folks could ever imagine.

    It might sometimes look like poetry in motion through the slow-motion lens of an NFL Films camera. But it's all a part of football's emotional and visual contradiction.

    Violent artistry. We love the sight of an elegant runner or receiver whose nimble grace eludes so many grasping would-be tacklers. The crowd ooohs and ahhhhs at that aesthetic sight every Sunday. But there's only one noise that resonates louder than the ooohs and ahhhs of an athletic escape artist. It's the chilling roar of a blood-thirsty crowd responding to the sight of a violent blindside blast that abruptly plants that elegant runner or receiver into the ground with a brutal thud.

    Gregg Williams did not create that monster, but he surely understood it. Pro football was a violent collision sport long before he came up with his first bounty speech, and it's time we stopped trying to make him out to be the originator of the NFL's hostile nature.


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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Burwell: Gregg Williams taking unfair hits

    Typical liberal claptrap of the day. Turning the instigator of the crime into a victim that suddenly needs pity. Williams is no innocent victim here. He may be the recipient of the proverbial dogpile, but then that's only poetic justice. If Williams suddenly is playing the martyr by not throwing the rest of his co-workers under the bus then only more reason to kick his asss to the curb.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by Burwell
    And while I hear people saying that the revelations of the existence of this tape recording — peppered with all that spicy language about knocking folks out, taking guys out and intimidating every opponent in sight — is supposed to be the final nail in Williams' coaching coffin, my reaction is dramatically different.
    Then you're wrong.

    Goodell, obviously, has more information than the public. Maybe he had this, maybe he didn't. Doesn't matter really. He will make his decision on how to define "indefinite" with whatever information he has. But in the public court, this IS new information. And while a large portion of the public may be okay with the idea of Williams coaching their Defense with rumors of what did or did not happen; to hear the man himself speaking of hitting ACL's and ankles, and testing the level of an opponent's concussion.....that's just more than the public will stomach from their coach.

    That audio tape will follow Williams wherever he goes, and I don't think there's a franchise that wants that weight around their neck.

    Williams will probably coach somewhere again.........I don't think the fans of Delaware Diesel School and College of Cosmotology will care about Williams' issues.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    I didn't think it was as bad as people make it, but he said "Head" too many times for my liking...

    Secondly, I need to know if the audio guy that released the footage made money on doing so...

    that would sway my opinion on him

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Burwell
    Second, according to the NFL's own investigation, neither Loomis nor Payton approached Williams and told him to knock it off.
    I find it hard to believe the situation wasn't discussed with Williams, but even if it wasn't, apparently it didn't need to be based on Williams own words:

    It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it," Williams said. "Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson, and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.
    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    to hear the man himself speaking of hitting ACL's and ankles, and testing the level of an opponent's concussion.....that's just more than the public will stomach from their coach
    That apparently goes for current and former players and coaches as well. I've heard dozens of them speak about the tape, with many saying that this is the culture of football, that the rhetoric was not suprising and common in the league. But every player and coach I've heard, has said a coach telling players to target an ACL, or look to concuss an opponent was taking it too far and over the line. That's where Williams gets into trouble.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Several observations:

    1. "If you kill the head, the body dies" is an expression which has been used time and again forever. In my mind, it adds nothing to the discussion; it only inflames the opinions of people who want to keep piling on Williams. Specifically telling a guy to get after an ACL, however shows an obvious and malicious intent to injure.

    2. I dare say if we were privvy to the locker room conversations of a lot of defensive coordinators and head coaches in which the fire and brimstone approach were used, we'd think very differently about those individuals- and about the game we know and love. Player after player over the past several weeks have come out and said that while some of what Williams said crossed the line, it is not much different from the words or the message being given in locker rooms throughout the league on any given Sunday. It's time we acknowledge that and stop with the holier-than-thou garbage.

    3. Williams won't be coaching here. The fallout from this never-ending saga makes him persona non grata around the league. That he hasn't been "officially let go" yet by the Rams means nothing.

    Make no mistake: Williams has paid a heavy price for his actions- the indefinite suspension, the loss of livelihood, the public scorn & humiliation and the blow to his reputation which will stay with him forever. I think that's PLENTY of punishment.
    RealRam likes this.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Its uncanny how Burwell manages to place himself on the wrong side of just about every issue.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    NJ - What happened to 4? ( I can get away with it), but, you're way too young to be having senior moments.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    I have to ask what everyones opinion would be if he was still the D coach for the Saints or another NFL team?


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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by RamDez View Post
    I have to ask what everyones opinion would be if he was still the D coach for the Saints or another NFL team?
    Fair question.

    It'd still be the same.

    In my view, Williams has been made a poster boy for what is a commonplace practice in the NFL. There is more than a sniff of hypocrisy around this issue and there have been comments from players both current and past that bear this feeling out.

    While I have no interest in defending Williams if he is indeed guilty of encouraging and incentivising injuries to opponents, I also have no interest in establishing a fall guy for what may be a wider problem, or of 'setting an example'. One of those options avoids the issue of player safety, the other pays rather glamorous lip-service to it.
    ramsbruce and NJ Ramsfan1 like this.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Pang View Post
    In my view, Williams has been made a poster boy for what is a commonplace practice in the NFL. There is more than a sniff of hypocrisy around this issue and there have been comments from players both current and past that bear this feeling out.
    Pang. I'm not trying to be argumentative, but do you really get the impression that purposely telling players to target opponents for injury is commonplace? Quite honestly, I have not heard that from any player or coach giving an oppinion on the issue. Without exception, all the players and coaches I've heard, say the rhetoric and use of metaphors like "kill the head" are pretty standard, but not the specific instructions to try and injure. I've looked extensively for comments to back up that notion, but have found none. Many talk about what Williams said being nothing unusual, but then say that the "take out that outside ACL" stuff is crossing a line.

    This is the gist of what I've heard from the guys who played and coached the game:

    Former Pro-Bowl Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor, who has leveled his fair share of quarterbacks, said Williams was "trippin' " and echoed Sitton's sentiments.

    "Going after ACL's and heads......not cool," he tweeted. Later he wrote, "Saying someone flinches..ok. Wanting to hit everything moving and intimidate...ok. Calling someone a prima donna..fine ACL and Head... NO!"
    I'd be interested to see a player or coaches statement making the case that a coach telliing players to specifically targeting opponents for injury is commonplace. Again, I have not seen that.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    I'd be interested to see a player or coaches statement making the case that a coach telliing players to specifically targeting opponents for injury is commonplace. Again, I have not seen that.
    Mike .. Greg Williams was taped in what he erroneously thought to be a private meeting with his players. There was no need for him to try and be politically correct, and he surely wasn't. To be really fair in this discussion we would need tapes of other NFL coaches exhortations to their players in "private environments" (in other words: apples to apples) before comparing Williams statements to those made by other NFL coaches "on record."

    Williams is the "poster boy" in this and he earned that distinction by getting caught. There are undoubtedly others who didn't, but you can bet they'll think twice about what they say and do in the future ...

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by RamDez View Post
    I have to ask what everyones opinion would be if he was still the D coach for the Saints or another NFL team?
    Ok Dez .. Since you ask - I'll be honest with you. If Williams was the DC for the Whiners, I'd be screaming for him to be banned for life - (twice if there's such a thing as reincarnation) and then beaten thoroughly several times for good measure !! ... You asked ...
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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Mike .. Greg Williams was taped in what he erroneously thought to be a private meeting with his players. There was no need for him to try and be politically correct, and he surely wasn't. To be really fair in this discussion we would need tapes of other NFL coaches exhortations to their players in "private environments" (in other words: apples to apples) before comparing Williams statements to those made by other NFL coaches "on record."

    Williams is the "poster boy" in this and he earned that distinction by getting caught. There are undoubtedly others who didn't, but you can bet they'll think twice about what they say and do in the future ...
    We obviously see this issue differently Tom, which is fine. You know I always respect your opinions.

    That said, I don't know what other coaches say behind closed doors, but I do know what I have heard from numerous players and coaches who have chosen to speak about the Williams situation. The sheer number of statements add creedence to their validity IMO. They all say he crossed the line. Even the guys who are staunchly in Williams corner, stop short of defending the comments about targeting named players for injury in specific ways. There is no defense for "He becomes human when we f****** take out that outside ACL". That's an unimbiguous statement that speaks for itself. I have no doubt it puts Williams in an exclusive place, well outside the norm. That's just the way I see it.

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    Re: Burwell: Gregg Williams Taking Unfair Hits

    I've heard that speech from seven of the defensive coordinators I've played with in my nine-year career.
    I'd wager there's an Antonio Pierce for every Jason Taylor.

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