Back in January, weeks before the word “bounty” meant anything to football fans other than the brand of paper towels used to clean up spilled beer after a garbage-time touchdown allowed the underdog to cover the spread, a pair of Giants players admitted following the NFC title game that part of the strategy was to hit punt returner Kyle Williams in the head.
“The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game,” linebacker Jacquain Williams said at the time regarding Williams, who muffed a punt and fumbled a punt during San Francisco.
“He’s had a lot of concussions,” receiver Devin Thomas said. “We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ . . . [Giants reserve safety Tyler] Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”
As Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports explains it, filmmaker Shawn Pamphilon was specifically troubled by the Giants’ remarks, given what Pamphilon heard the night before the Saints played the 49ers in the division round.
“When [Gregg Williams] was talking about the Gore stuff and saying ‘cut off the head,’ I was thinking, ‘That’s a metaphor,’ ” Pamphilon told Silver. “The thing that really got me was when he said the thing about No. 10 and concussions. I thought, ‘Did he just say that?’ That was the red flag for me. And then the comments by the Giants made it hit home even harder.”
What hits home even harder now is the possibility, if not likelihood, that Jacquain Williams and Devin Thomas didn’t come up with the importance of hitting Kyle Williams in the head on their own. In nearly a dozen years of covering the NFL, one thing I’ve learned is that most of the things the players say publicly trace back to something a member of the coaching staff told them.
And so it’s now hard not to wonder whether one or more members of the Giants’ coaching staff were saying the same kind of things that Gregg Williams was saying to the Saints the night before the Giants played the 49ers.