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Did Goodell Know About This Tape of Gregg Williams Meeting with His Defense?


RUSH: The New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, the night before the game, the New Orleans Saints and the Fort'iners and the bounty.  I want you to hear some of this.  I've read to you some of what he said.  I want you to listen.  This is Gregg Williams during a defensive meeting in the hotel the night before the game.  It's Saturday, January 13th.  It's a hotel near the airport outside San Francisco.  We've got a montage of Gregg Williams, the Saints defensive coordinator, in the meeting with the defensive unit.

WILLIAMS: Little 32 [Kendall Hunter], we wanna knock the (expletive/bleeped) out of him. He has no idea what he's in for. We hit (expletive/bleeped) Smith. Right there, (Williams points to chin). Remember me. I got the first one. (Williams rubs fingers together indicating cash payment). I got the first one. Go lay that (expletive/bleeped) out. We're gonna dominate the line of scrimmage and we're going to kill the (expletive/bleeped) head. Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head.

RUSH:  This is in a league that is going to every extreme it can to protect the head.  Now, some of these gestures are the slit throat, the forearm to the chin.  This is about 44 seconds.  This gets a little bit more specific.

WILLIAMS:  The little wide receiver, [Kyle Williams] number 10, about his concussion. We need to (expletive/bleeped) put a lick on him right now.  We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake (expletive/bleeped) prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy.  He becomes human, when we (expletive/bleeped) take out that outside ACL. We need to decide how many times we can beat Frank Gore's head. We need to decide how many times we can bull rush and we can (expletive/bleeped) put Vernon Davis' ankles over the pile. We need to decide, Alex Smith in the pre-season game, when you guys (expletive/bleeped) avalanched that mother (expletive/bleeped) had eyes that big.  Another thing we always say in this room, is never apologize for the way we compete. If you're in this room, you understand, we don't apologize.

RUSH:  Take out that outside ACL.  He is telling somebody to go take out somebody's career.  Frank Gore, the running back, pound on that head. We want that head sideways. Number ten, little number ten, is a punt returner.  His dad, by the way, is the general manager of the Chicago White Sox.  We want to find out about this kid's concussion, is he ready to play or can we -- this was a meeting in which the defensive coordinator is urging the defensive unit of the Saints to commit assault and battery.  Even former players are saying it's egregious. They've never heard anything like this. This guy should never be let back in the league.  Warren Sapp is saying that, for example.


RUSH:  After hearing the Gregg Williams audio, Snerdley said to me, "Man, I'd love to see that game."  I said, "They played that game, it was a playoff game in January, and the Fort'iners scored 36 points against the Saints and beat them."  And the only serious injury in the game, if I recall right, was Pierre Thomas, the running back for the Saints, who was put out early with a legal helmet to helmet hit on a tackle near the goal line. 

Let me tell you where this goes back to.  And it's more than this.  I mean this was standard operating procedure for Williams and the Saints defense. But back in the preseason of last season, the Fort'iners and the Saints played, and remember there had been a lockout.  So there hadn't been a lot of practice time.  Training camps were abbreviated.  Coaches in preseason games ostensibly got together and let each other know how long they were each gonna play their starters in a preseason game, so they could match it up, take starters out at the same time and put the young guys in and start evaluating talent. 

Well, apparently Sean Payton, the coach of the Saints called Harbaugh, rookie coach of the Fort'iners and said, "When are you gonna take your starters out?"   Harbaugh didn't tell him. Harbaugh wouldn't call him back. The story is that Payton got really ticked off that this new coach wouldn't cooperate with him and told Gregg Williams, "Okay, let the dogs out."  And what happened was that the Saints defense ran blitz after blitz.  They were doing safety blitz's throughout the entire game, which in preseason doesn't happen.  Defenses don't show everything they've got.  They don't run a whole lot of blitzes, but apparently the Saints were ticked off that Harbaugh wouldn't cooperate.  So that kind of bled over when the teams met again in the playoff game. 

But it's football.  So I told you the story, this was funny.  Last week the NFL meetings were here in Palm Beach, just less than a quarter mile from here at the Breakers.  The whole subject matter was the Saints bounty and the punishment of the coach and the general manager, Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator, and Vitt, assistant head coach. And the media, everybody's there buzzing about bounties and punishment and so forth, on the televisions in the pressroom was the NFL Network, owned and operated by the league, and they were running a show about the top ten toughest tacklers put together by NFL Films.  It featured, number five, a guy named Hardy Brown who played for the 49ers back in the fifties. 

He is well known for being one of the toughest, hardest, most brutal linebackers in the NFL.  And during the show, Hardy Brown being interviewed, now retired, talked about the time back in the fifties when the Rams would put out a bounty on him, 500 bucks.  So he called one of his buddies at the Rams and said, (paraphrasing) "Look, they put a bounty on me. What do you say I fake it, I fake the injury, and you and I split the 500?"  Well, they laughed about it.  They joked about it.  Now, the league's gone through a massive transformation since then because of all that's been learned about concussions and related injuries later in life after incurring or experiencing so many concussions and other injuries related to the head.  The league is very serious about this now.  And it was just ironic that here's Hardy Brown in the fifties bragging about having a bounty on him and splitting the money by faking an injury while the league is wringing their hands over it. 

But the question now, did the league know about Gregg Williams' comments when they made the original ruling on his suspension?  And the story is -- again, it's just a story -- that Commissioner Goodell didn't know, had not heard this tape, and everybody made the case except for Williams. He did not appeal his suspension, but everybody else involved here did, and that was yesterday. Goodell's supposed to make his final ruling today.  It could be even worse.  


RUSH: Starting in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Hello, Mike.  I'm glad you called.  Great to have you.

CALLER:  Hi, Rush.  How are you doing today?

RUSH:  Very good, sir.  Thank you.

CALLER:  I saw with these New Orleans Saints defensive players and the NFL Players Association told them to "lawyer up" before their hearings.  And I have a theory that I think the NFL actually might put criminal charges against 'em.

RUSH:  Hmm.  What purpose would be served by the league filing criminal charges against players in the bounty program?

CALLER:  Well, with all these concussion lawsuits that are going on now, Roger Goodell, if he presses criminal charges against 'em, when these civil suits come out and they say, "You did nothing." He says, "Whoa, excuse me, I sure did." And think of the money the NFL could save --

RUSH:  Here's the problem.  The only problem with that is -- and I, frankly, haven't considered this so I would be remiss if I just rejected this as my instinct is -- my instinct says this would never happen. The league's never gonna file criminal charges.  Other players might file criminal charges.  For example, the players named in this suit, the players named by Gregg Williams in this tape, might they file criminal charges against the Saints players if there's evidence that they actually went out and tried to take out an ACL, might they do it?

CALLER:  Absolutely. 

RUSH:  Well, but then there's one element here that we have to consider, and that's the players union.  They are not going to be uninvolved in this.  And the league wants to have a cooperative effort with them.

CALLER:  Well, they almost are to a point, Rush, because Goodell held back his decisions on the suspension of the players to talk with the NFL Players Association, and now it's out they have no recommendation.  So I think we're in uncharted territory here.

RUSH:  Now, wait a second.  I had not heard that.  I'm not saying you're wrong.  I have not heard that the NFL Players Association has said that they have no recommendation.

CALLER:  Yes.  That has definitely been on the ticker tape of ESPN, so I think --

RUSH:  No recommendation on what?

CALLER:  On the suspension of the players.  See, Goodell suspended the manager, you know, the coaches and all that, and he said he would wait to suspend the players until talking to the NFL PA, and guess what?  They said we have no recommendation.

RUSH:  Well, look, my job as the world's foremost authority --

CALLER:  I understand that.  That's why I called you.

RUSH:  I'm gonna have to dig this one out myself.  Please take no offense here.

CALLER:  Oh, I don't.

RUSH:  I'm gonna find this out.  Also, I don't know about criminal charges against the players.  I don't know how you would prove the intent unless a series of hits looked dramatically different than any other series of hits in a game.  The burden of proof on that, I don't know.  You've given me things to think about here.


RUSH: Four days ago, here's the story.  NFL Players Association, the union, told players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty case that there is a chance they could face criminal charges and the union hired outside lawyers to represent them if needed.  While commissioner Roger Goodell weighs how to punish the two dozen or so players the league says might be connected to the bounties, union said -- suggested that players have a lawyer and union representative present when they are interviewed by NFL investigators.  Union plans to head to New York this week to meet with league security staff and review additional evidence.  All -- it's all I could find real quickly during the break.  I couldn't find anything about them saying no recommendation on criminal -- but here they are, suggesting that the players go get lawyers and that they will help 'em out. 



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