Gregg Williams audio could bolster players’ positions on appeal

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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.

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76 responses to “Gregg Williams audio could bolster players’ positions on appeal

  1. It is worth noting that the two marines tried for giving a “code red” were found guilty of conduct unbecoming a marine and discharged….

  2. Agree; especially if they can show they weren’t in the loop on the cease and desist order from the NFL.

  3. Gregg Williams has about as much chance of coaching in the NFL again as my pet dog.

    Even if he were reinstated (0% chance), nobody would touch him, not even an old buddy.

    That’s the hole he’s dug. I’m more interested in seeing if anything is going to happen from a criminal standpoint. MF is the lawyer here.

  4. There’s no question the players will take whatever excuse they can. And this is probably it. BUT, if the players get off playing the ‘victim’ card, it should mean ALL Saints coaches and management (yes, including even Payton) should be gone for life.

  5. It’s a BS argument, the players are grown men with free will. It’s like the German Generals claiming that they were “just following orders”.

    Well, following illegal orders is still illegal on the part of the order follower.

  6. Everyone is accountable for their own actions.

    If A mob boss orders hits on his competition. He then Hires criminals to carry out the hits. Greg Williams & the players involved are not victims in this.

    NFLPA protect the players who need to be protected not the players who committed the crime.

  7. So did nothing else happen in the NFL today? Literally every post you have is about this scandal. It’s a terrible thing that happened, he’s paying the price, saints fans are out of line in saying the nfl is out of line, and the nflpa is playing politics by pushing the blame on coaches and suggesting these grown men are merely sheep. We get it. Please write about something else, or at least sprinkle something else in here or there.

  8. With arguments like these it’s easy to see why your not practicing law anymore. In every case there is always one lawyer who looses. My guess is that you were on the loosing side quite often.

  9. So all the players are going to say that Williams bullied everyone into doing this? He would yell at all of those poor players and make them feel so scared of him – that they had no choice but to smash Frank Gore’s head?

  10. the players are grown ass men, and the argument will be made that they just couldn’t handle the pressure from Gregg Williams? these guys were complicit in a scheme to injure other players.

    ban Williams, vacate the wins, keep the Saints out of the draft for a few years. Payton was complicit but I doubt he would’ve instituted this system had Williams not been there. Players that issued bounties for injuries should be banned for life.

  11. If somebody tells you to jump off a bridge, then you have no choice but to jump. And if they really coerce you by yelling at you, then you are not responsible. Yah, right.

    The truth is that each person has a clear choice on their own actions – nobody is forced into anything. Even in the NFL.

  12. The Saints players sure listened to Williams?

    They let TE Davis play catch and run with QB Alex Smith AND allowed Smith the speedmerchant QB run UNTOCHED past them for a long TD.

  13. Players ALL have choices. So, what do you say about Vilma, who allegedly threw 10K in the pot for injuring Favre? Was he COERCED?? C’mon, I know you ALWAYS take the side of the players in whatever battle they have, but saying they were coerced is reaching.

  14. Trying to INJURE players is criminal. I could understand hitting them hard to try to hurt ’em, but injuring them is on a whole new level. Tearing ACLs, inflicting brain injuries…that’s disgusting.

    Sean Payton and Williams should be suspended indefinely.

  15. Saints players who participated in the bounties are victims? Seriously? That belief mocks any legitimate victim whether it’s from domestic assault or Mother Nature.

  16. So the players involved were only ‘following orders’? I thought that defense was ruled out in the late ’40s.

  17. Gregg Williams is an arrogant and ignorant S.O.B. with a barbaric and disgusting mindset, he deserves to be banned from league, but at same time…those team meetings are private and shouldn’t have been made public to the media…Roger Goodell is a hypocrite, why would he inform teams to keep player information private in the case of morris claiborne failed wonderlic test but he allows greg williams audio go public….hypocrisy at it’s best

  18. Man if it’s wrong it’s wrong period. If you have the Quarterback in your sights then you have the ability to NOT hit the guy in the head or knees or a helmet to the ribs whilst making the sack. If the coaches complain or cause you any financial harm because you had not maimed the opposing player you go to the union or the league and allow things to shake out. The NFLPA wants to use the same loosing argument that the Nazi underlings tried,” we were just following orders”. That didn’t work out to well as they were all hung by the neck until dead. These players are going to be hung out to dry by the Commish after due process, the argument was weak then and is just as weak now.

  19. It was still the players who were putting their own money into the pool.

    There wasn’t any audio telling them they needed to put up money.

  20. It’s also going to bolster the lawsuits of any players who were injured in the NFL the last five years or so. Have fun with that can o’ worms Goodell.

  21. No one forced them to put their own money in, plus many players have already admitted that pooling money for big plays is common. Players are guolty too…. Sorry.

  22. Balderdash! This is the NFL not a Facist Dictatorship. The Players have a responsibility to the other players who play the game.

    If you Williams told players to kill someone and they did it, the punishment is on them. There is no difference here and nor should there be. These guys have a duty to report this type of behavior to the their Rep. Just think if they’ve got a bullseye on their chest/chin? I should think they would be incredibly incensed if someone targeted their Head or ACL and they found out about it.

  23. And Tiki is still flabbergasted and screamin’ WTF. Meanwhile, Favre is jumping for joy and sayin’ , if not for dat dude Williams, I would have had ring #2….I’m definately maybe comin’ back, maybe comin’ back, maybe comin’ back, unless I retire again, and again, and again, etc.

  24. These players had a choice, they choose greed of money. They could have reported the comments to the head coach as well as upper managment. Now that the Saints have been CAUGHT they will use anything as an excuse to not have stood up as MEN and done the right thing. They were counting money.

  25. Negative. If they took the money, they are guilty. They had every opportunity to not take the money and there’s no way they were “forced” to, so this is bunk.

  26. It won’t “bolster player’s positions” if they actually accepted money for carrying out those instructions. WEAK!

  27. and ESPN was forced to cancel it’s Football soap opera because it’s premises ‘just wouldn’t happen’– yeah, right!


  28. I assume the NFLPA will be referring to the part where Williams says something along the lines of “we chose you because you were the best football players to carry out our style of football, and I hope we were right”. One could plausibly believe that this comment is a veiled threat, that the players either go along with the program or they’ll get cut.

  29. So much for protecting the health of players, the NFLPAs position ” it was somebody’s else’s fault”, players dont have a free will to do what’s right to their fellow players. What a crock!

  30. NFLPA hinted that it will attempt to fashion an argument that the players who participated in the bounty system had no choice…this is crap, they had choices and they had options to stop it.

  31. Uh…excuse me…How was Vilma coerced into offering the 10 grand bounty on Farve???

    The players did not have to accept the money!

    The players could have anonymously reported as a whistleblower what was going on!!

    Hargrove, McCray, Harper, et al didn’t seem to have any qualms about deliberately injuring other players so don’t give us this nonsense that the NFLPA is doling out!

    The NFLPA and some of these teams just don’t get it. Football was nearly banned in the Teddy Roosevelt era because of recklessness and head injuries – these clowns better study a little history and think about if they want the game to survive.

  32. What a load of bull, throw one guy under the bus just to save all of their skins… If they had such a big problem with this why didn’t they reveal it sooner?

  33. Would somebody buy Williams a bra already? He’s got to sporting a full-on B cup at this point.

  34. I am a Panther’s fan, but I was a player in college. I can say that it would have been tough to take a stand against your coach and teammates. Having said that, I would not have contributed to the pot.

    The lockerroom culture is much like Vegas. It makes sense when you are in the midst of it, but if you try to explain it to an outsider, it doesn’t. You can get caught up in the violence and the tough guy aspects. These are kids (21-24) basically who know no different. Almost an “A FEW GOOD MEN” dilemma; they were following orders. When a family code violates a bigger code, you have to know that it is hard to do the right thing. I did not like singing my school fight song in front of everyone before film sessions or carrying seniors’ helmets off the practice field, but I did it because everyone else had and everyone else was at the time. Don’t make waves–play the game.

    Loomis and Payton are as much to blame as Williams because they allowed him to exist. Now they are trying to separate from him. Williams was under their supervision, they were told to fix the problem, and lied about it. Now they want to be given a break. Players? maybe. Coaches and GM? Never. In fact, Benson knew of the investigations and it is his team. He should bear some responsibility because this occured on his ship after the NFL notified him that it was a problem.

  35. Fact is, in the NFL, the players work for their coaches…coaches work for the head coach, who works for the GM and/or President of a franchise…who works for the owners of the franchise.

    Players are under contract and expected to perform…they are paid to play the game. Players are taught or instructed how to play the game by their coaches and if a player does not meet the standard of play expected by their coaches…the player’s contract can be terminated. An NFL player can be fired at any time because their contracts are not guaranteed.

    There is no doubt the Saints players have a viable defense for their actions because they are following orders. If they do not follow instructions and perform as expected, they could lose their job.

    The Saints’ players did participate in the Bounty system but who started the Bounty system?

    It all goes back to management and how they motivate their players and what they expect of their players in return for the salary management pays to the players.

    The Saints players are guilty of following the instructions of their coaches and participating in a Bounty system established by Greg Williams, with the support of the head coach and the Saints GM.

    The players found themselves in between a rock and a hard place…if they disagreed with their coaches methods (Bounty system) and took their concerns to management, they would be putting their livelihood in jeopardy.

  36. The players need to get taken to the woodshed just like Williams.
    Similar to “the Karate Kid”, it was Williams who played the Cobra Kai Sensai instructing his students to “SWEEP THE LEG”.
    Unfortunately, the targeted players cannot utilize the crane technique like Daniel-san to successfully ward off these attacks.

  37. What must goad Goodell more than players health being put at risk is the fact that the Saints were paying more for hits than he was fining them!

  38. Does everyone remember when Arian foster tweeted a pic of his injured hammy? Why was everyone calling him crazy for doing that? I remember everyone including the media saying opposing players were going to target his hammy and try to get him out of the game. How is that mentality different? As a commenter mentioned on another article, we are talking about a very fine line here.

  39. mhs8031, you hit it right on the head. I was also a player in college (not much and not for long), but that mentality is almost impossible to break. It is easy to say I wouldn’t have contributed, but you can get caught up real quick without even realizing what is going on. It is an emotional game.

    That doesn’t for one minute excuse what these players have done, even at the behest of coaches, and I don’t think any punishments should be mitigated simply because of these new circumstances.

  40. @mhs8031,

    You brought up Benson. He did know of the investigation and did bring it to Payton’s attention. Not that I have perfect info, but I believe Payton told Benson he would take care of it. So Benson believed him. Let’s face it, Payton had developed this St. Sean personality. He could do no wrong. And at the time, it seemed plausible. What I don’t get is how Benson can allow these guys to still be on his payroll. Lying to the boss should be grounds for immediate dismissal.

  41. “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.”

    BS! You always have a choice in any decision you make. You may not like the choices but you still have a choice.

  42. “What the Hell is going on out there”
    Just wondering if anyone is curious as to the whereabouts of Coach Payton when Coach Williams is giving his pep talks, “oh Sean, I am giving my little Bounty speech again right after lunch, you want to step out of the meeting” Ya, I can see that happening over the last 3 years, these players had choices and so did the coaches, and they all continued to keep on doing it until somone blew the whistle and whom ever that is, should be sent right to the Hall of Fame in Canton.

  43. Yeah, let’s compare this to a military movie with the code red. Really????

    So the players are going to argue that they aren’t grown up enough to say “Coach, this isn’t right. I want to play hard but we can beat these guys without purposely hurting them.” What a joke if the NFL actually let’s them get away with it.

    They are professionals that get paid to play football and follow the rules of the game. If they don’t know that by this time then maybe they should get an indefinite suspension as well.

  44. Seems the point is being missed here in many of the comments. The fact is, although Williams screamed and yelled for blood, I don’t see that any Saints players actually drew blood. Comparing this to the mob or Nazis is really just absurd, please people, perspective!

    My boss says a lot of stupid things that I nod and say ‘ok’ and then I ignore and continue about my business.

  45. I am appalled by the suggestion that players believe they can get off the hook by using the old “We were just following orders” line. Shame on anyone LAME enough to do so. Frankly, SHAME on PFT for evening giving it air!

  46. Well, their (Saints) ploy is working, 95% of all article, and posts are about Williams and how ugly he was/is. Drawing FIRE from PAYTON N LOOMIS as well as VITT. We all know the theory, uh, I didn’t know, it was all GREGG. ONE problem her- THEY are the Commanders, General Manager. HEAD COACH. They ARE responsible for what goes on in, around and beneath them. Ask any CEO. PERIOD.

    In the meantime, get used to it, this ship is headed into DEEP WATERS, law suits, criminal investigations, local and Federal, Senate Committee hearings, IRS, Audits, RICO, etc, etc. The Saints have opened the doors for EVERYBODY and their brothers to come for dinner. Even Goodell knows and content stop it now Ask the Cinncy Reds and Peter Rose how this plays, they know. As do Conseco and The Yankees. Big free enterprise money, with a legitimate excuse for everybody to start looking at. Get your popcorn and beer, this thing is just getting started. Even Goodell will be standing before the man. You’re dang right he’s ticked at Payton n buddies, his butts about to go on the hot seat and he knows it

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