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In Buffalo, Williams was “soft” and “cerebral”

105BCA41DFD5FFC58F90BEA8F0F4 Getty Images

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams apparently wasn’t always the guy who told his players in January 2012 to “kill the head” and attack ACLs.  According to former NFL defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, a decade ago Williams was a much different coach.

He was the softest coach I’ve been around,” Ahanotu told Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It was to the point, really, where I said, ‘Man, this guy’s really not made out to be a coach.’  Honestly, that’s what I always felt in Buffalo — this is not football.  His approach was very cerebral. . . .

“He always talked about these complex things.  It was like, ‘Man, can we just line up and play football.’ That’s how I always felt with him.  I was only there for one year with him and coaches always develop and change.  Maybe this is what he changed to.”

Perhaps that’s what precisely happened, with Williams becoming progressively more aggressive after getting fired as head coach of the Bills and then bouncing from Washington to Jacksonville and finally to New Orleans.

Ahanotu also agrees with the Commissioner’s stance on Williams’ most recent tactics, even though Ahanotu agrees with the notion that knocking opposing quarterbacks has always been one of the objectives of football.  “I played D-line and we tried to knock the quarterback out,” Ahanotu said.  “We tried to knock him out.  We wanted to knock him out of the game.  This was before all of the concussion awareness and that.  But regardless whether you knock him out with a concussion, you want to hurt the guy.  We weren’t trying to maim people out there but we wanted to get them out of the game.  Even in this day in age — as a defensive lineman — you’re trying to get him out of the game. . . .  [But] when he starts talking about ACLs and concussions, especially in this age, I understand.  The Commissioner is totally validated for what he did.”

The real question going forward is whether the longstanding desire to find a way to get the opposing quarterback out of the game will revert to being unspoken, or whether the broader goal will be to instill a completely different way of thinking when it comes to the potential consequences of a big hit or a hard tackle.  If it’s the latter, it may take a generation or longer before players stop linking the concept of knocking a player out of a game with having a greater chance of winning the game.

Or, perhaps more realistically, it’s part of the culture that can’t be changed unless and until all forceful physical contact is removed from the sport.

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23 Responses to “In Buffalo, Williams was “soft” and “cerebral””
  1. TaiwanMike says: Apr 8, 2012 10:18 PM

    Not that I condone Williams’ actions, maybe that’s why Buffalo’s defense couldn’t stop a fart in the wind from ’01-’03.

  2. elcolon says: Apr 8, 2012 10:27 PM

    @TaiwanMike

    Wouldn’t it be damn near impossible to stop a fart in the wind?

  3. jbcommonsense says: Apr 8, 2012 10:40 PM

    Great photo.

  4. tfbuckfutter says: Apr 8, 2012 10:41 PM

    Kind of funny for him to label Williams the softest coach he’s been around….

    Considering he played 5 years under Tony Dungy.

  5. mataug says: Apr 9, 2012 12:13 AM

    the key phrase in his statement – especially in this age

    To me, that sounds like, a decade or two back, this would have been a non-issue :(

  6. jaimelh02 says: Apr 9, 2012 12:19 AM

    Life is tough and what he is saying is just what this world is about. In order to get somewhere in life you have to take it, and not apologize for it. It’s either your life or his. The other guy is keeping you from putting food on your table for your family and you have to stop him any means possible!

  7. nucealius says: Apr 9, 2012 12:33 AM

    “Not that I condone Williams’ actions, maybe that’s why Buffalo’s defense couldn’t stop a fart in the wind from ’01-’03.”

    ____________________________________

    Bills defensive rankings:

    01: 21st

    02: 15th

    03: 2nd

    04 (Just Because): 2nd

    They weren’t that bad on D under Williams (and then Mularky).

  8. piemasteruk says: Apr 9, 2012 1:11 AM

    Football is a competitive sport and in competitive sports players will always use whatever means they can within the rules to win. Knocking the opponents’ stud QB out of the game is a pretty big step towards winning, and so it is something defensive players will always look to do, whether this is taught by coaches or a kind of ‘unspoken agreement’.

    The commissioner can stamp his foot and dish out bans all he likes, but that is the reality of football.

  9. hines86for6 says: Apr 9, 2012 1:35 AM

    When I first read this headline, I thought they might be referencing Kyle Williams. Then I remembered how he’s a top 3 DT in the NFL.

    Williams next to Super Mario will be fierce.

  10. hines86for6 says: Apr 9, 2012 1:46 AM

    The Williams Bros, not brothers.

  11. theclaim says: Apr 9, 2012 2:49 AM

    Not that I condone Williams’ actions, maybe that’s why Buffalo’s defense couldn’t stop a fart in the wind from ’01-’03.

    How do you stop a fart in the wind? I want The Skins RBs to BE that fart. Hot, elusive yet able to hit hard enough to make a mans eyes water! HTTR HV!

  12. adlent says: Apr 9, 2012 6:44 AM

    “To me, that sounds like, a decade or two back, this would have been a non-issue”

    It probably wouldn’t have been, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be now. People can talk all they want about how the NFL should just put “skirts” on players and make it “flag football” but when all these old school, veteran-era NFL players are dying of brain injuries, hobbled, crippled and suing the NFL it just goes to show that the old school way doesn’t appeal to them much either… time to change.

  13. tv426 says: Apr 9, 2012 7:32 AM

    Even though guys get hurt all the time in football, whether you are trying to or not, really hurting someone is pretty damn hard to do. If it were easy then no QB or RB would ever make it through a single season.

  14. burgandyandgoldfan says: Apr 9, 2012 7:32 AM

    If Williams’ style is “soft”, I wonder how it’s usually done…

  15. grenamier says: Apr 9, 2012 7:48 AM

    If tHat photo is a freeze frame from a video, I want to know what the very next frame or two look like. (crunch!)

  16. tatatoothy says: Apr 9, 2012 8:02 AM

    What the bullhorns at training camp, Chidi? And all the other crap this clown pulled while he “coached” the Bills.

    Sorry Chidi, but you are a liar.

  17. lgbarn says: Apr 9, 2012 8:05 AM

    TaiwanMike says: Apr 8, 2012 10:18 PM

    Not that I condone Williams’ actions, maybe that’s why Buffalo’s defense couldn’t stop a fart in the wind from ’01-’03.

    —————————————————

    Funny but have you ever tried to stop one in the wind? It can’t be done, as bad as Buffalo was, they can’t be blamed for not stopping a fart.

  18. 49erstim says: Apr 9, 2012 9:28 AM

    Do we really need a story for every player or ex-player that speaks out against bounties? I know its one of the biggest football scandals in years, but I think the subject has been sufficiently milked. It was abhorrent, it was wrong, but 5 or more stories a day for a month is overkill

  19. devikesfan says: Apr 9, 2012 10:43 AM

    Which is more difficult- stopping a fart in the wind, or catching one and painting it orange?
    I think the Myth Busters might have to do a show about this…

  20. tatatoothy says: Apr 9, 2012 11:36 AM

    devikesfan says:
    Apr 9, 2012 10:43 AM

    Which is more difficult- stopping a fart in the wind, or catching one and painting it orange?

    I think the Myth Busters might have to do a show about this…
    ___________________________________

    Painting it orange. Much more difficult than stopping.

    I can attest that as a professional Fart Connoisseur the mad gas indeed can be stopped, even under windy conditions.

    By use of what I like to refer to as “the human shield” or in some cases “the fart hero,” a fart, which typically carries a low center of gravity, cannot penetrate *beyond* a human shield barrier. It may devastate the human being used as the shield, but if properly positioned in coordination with the source of the odor (ie., the rear end), the effect can be stopped from pushing beyond the human shield.

    Often times, the human shield does not wish to be used for such purposes and will flail about, sometimes violently, trying to avoid the digasterous odor. When such a response occurs, it is encouraged that the “alpha” (the one who pushes the human shield into harm’s way to save him/herself) immediately abort the mission if it is determined that the shield can outpower the alpha, and it is highly suggested that the alpha run as fast as possible away from the incident, both to avoid the effects of the fart and also to avoid the likely black eye that will be provided by the shield.

    The “Fart Hero,” like myself on the otherhand, will make the ultimate sacrifice and put him/herself in between the source of the fart and innocent bystanders and soak in all of the fart’s glorious odors. A wafting motion might also be used by the fart hero in order to ensure the gascious effects stay localized and others around are not subjected to the smell.

  21. devikesfan says: Apr 9, 2012 1:16 PM

    @tatatoothy-
    Hahahahahaha!
    Thank God for you Fart Heroes! You are doing a job the rest of us are afraid to!

  22. nomesayin says: Apr 9, 2012 1:28 PM

    Then, again, there’s Jerry Glanville: “Listen you guys; do NOT knock Joe Montana out of the game! We don’t want deal with Steve Young. He’ll KILL us”

    lolz

  23. hallcyon says: Apr 9, 2012 2:15 PM

    And in the dark the NFL still does not have a neurologist at every NFL game. But they will have someone without any training to give a neurological examination of players who have been injured. Seems Goodell is full of himself as is the NFL. Is Goodell right about the Saints? Yes. But is Goodell a hypocrite? Yes.

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