From our pal Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times comes an interesting new nugget regarding the league’s handling of the appeal of the full-year suspension filed by Saints coach Sean Payton, as it relies on the idea that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was a “rogue coach.”
Per Farmer, the NFL has reviewed a book written by Payton after the Super Bowl season, finding places “where he references control/attention to detail.”
There are plenty of other quotes from Payton suggesting that he knew, and apparently wasn’t concerned, about Williams’ methods.
“Listen, I paid close attention to what was said,” Payton said after Williams’ notorious “remember me” diatribe regarding Peyton Manning before Super Bowl XLIV. “I think that I said this last week: Given the nature of Super Bowl week, I think that one of the first things you try to do defensively is try to hurry the quarterback, pressure the quarterback or disrupt the timing of the quarterback. I think it’s fairly common sense with defensive football. In looking at it, I don’t really pay much attention to that.”
But Payton paid close enough attention to be concerned about Williams saying more things that could cause problems. Prior to Media Day during the week preceding Super Bowl XLIV, Payton served Williams a jar of peanut butter, crackers, and a glass of sand “to keep his mouth shut” when talking to the press. It was a funny joke, but at the core of the stunt posssibly was a not-so-subtle message.
Thus, while Williams may indeed have “gone rogue” from time to time during his three years with the Saints, there’s likely enough evidence to allow the league to conclude that Payton knew what was happening. And the league easily could conclude that, by not intervening, Payton and the rest of the coaching staff essentially ratified the rogue, necessarily making him no longer a rogue.