Among the many incendiary statements that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams used to fire up his players was, “Kill the head and the body will die.” There’s been a great deal of debate about what Williams meant when he talked about killing the head, but there’s no doubt about this: He wasn’t the only one in the NFL who used that phrase.
In fact, players walking into the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive line room in 2008 were greeted with that slogan painted in huge letters: “KILL THE HEAD & THE BODY WILL DIE.”
The phrase was shown on the 2008 NFL Films production Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL, which aired on NFL Network today. (The image here is a picture I took of my TV.) Herm Edwards was the Chiefs’ head coach at the time, Gunther Cunningham was the defensive coordinator and Tim Krumrie was the defensive line coach. It’s not clear who painted the slogan or which members of the coaching staff endorsed it, but it is clear that the phrase was something the Chiefs wanted all of their defensive linemen to see.
After audio emerged of Williams saying before the playoff game against the 49ers that he wanted his players to “Make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head,” many people were shocked at what they heard, while some former players said it was par for the course in the NFL. In the Chiefs’ defensive line meeting room, “Kill the head & the body will die” was the first thing every player saw, every time he walked in.