The release of audio from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams recorded the night before the playoff game between New Orleans and San Francisco does nothing to help the interests of Williams and the other Saints officials who have been suspended. But the evidence of Williams’ graphic comments instructing defensive players to attempt to inflict injury could help the players whose fates have not yet been determined by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In a statement released on March 7, the NFLPA hinted that it will attempt to fashion an argument that the players who participated in the bounty system had no choice, accusing the Saints coaches of engaging in “abusive and coercive” activities. This strategy allowed the NFLPA to tiptoe along the fine line between its duty to represent the men who funded and/or carried out bounties and the men who were targeted.
Now, Williams’ comments allow the NFLPA to plausibly argue that the players on each side of the bounty equation were victims, with men like Williams ordering the football version of a “Code Red” and the players having no choice but to comply.
And so the players now have something tangible to which the NFLPA can point when appealing the looming suspensions, and some low-hanging fruit for cross-examining Williams, if/when he testifies at the hearing. Since the NFL wasn’t previously aware of the Williams comments, the NFL needs to consider the impact of his words on the ability to make player suspensions stick.
The man who broke the story of the Williams audio, Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, talked about this and other issues during a Thursday appearance on PFT Live that he accomplished while walking his dog or, possibly, while his dog was walking him.