Tarkenton says Williams should be banned for life, imprisoned


Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton has plenty of opinions.  Plenty of strong opinions.  And he has some of his strongest opinions yet regarding one of the biggest scandals the league has ever seen.

“He should be banned, forever,” Tarkenton recently told ESPN 1000 in Chicago (via SportsRadioInterviews.com) regarding former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  “He ought to be convicted.  He ought to go to prison.  This is criminal behavior.  I think the lawsuits that will come out of this will absolutely be staggering because if you’re Brett Favre, if you’re Kurt Warner, if you’re the tight end up there in San Francisco, Vernon Davis, if you’re [Michael] Crabtree, if you’re Frank Gore, don’t you think their lawyers are talking to them today saying, ‘We got a lawsuit here?'”

It’s all a little extreme, especially since there’s no evidence that the intent ever resulted in serious injury — and especially since bounties apparently have been part of the game for a long time.  Peter King recently recounted an NFL Films production (aired on, coincidentally, NFL Network) in which ’50s-era 49ers linebacker Hardy Brown claims, in matter-of-fact fashion, that the Rams had a $500 bounty on Brown.  Last month, the son of former NFL defensive end Don Joyce (who played with Tarkenton during his rookie season of 1961), said that the Rams also had a bounty on him in the 1950s.

“In 1954, the Los Angeles Rams had a $100 bounty on my dad for anyone who could knock him out of the game,” Don Joyce Jr. said.  “My dad warned the player, Les Richter, that he’d rip his head off.  It happened again, and my dad ripped the guy’s helmet off and beat him with it.”

It doesn’t mean that players in the ’50 and ’60s constantly tried to injure each other; indeed, at pages 212-13 of the timeless 1967 diary of Packers guard Jerry Kramer, Instant Replay, Kramer explains that tackle Forrest Gregg decided against attacking the bad knees of Vikings defensive end Carl Eller.  “He’s a helluva guy,” Gregg said of Eller.  “He’s such a good clean competitor I wouldn’t do anything like that.”

But plenty of guys apparently would, and plenty of guys apparently have.  Though it doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t necessarily make it criminal.  It makes it an example of the dark side of football.  Though the Saints’ situation may result in fewer people openly discussing the fact that there’s a benefit to knocking opposing players out of the game and offering cash as an incentive to do so, it may not wipe the concept out of the sport.

54 responses to “Tarkenton says Williams should be banned for life, imprisoned

  1. You can’t compare what Williams did to guys who play dirty. Williams instructed players to injure other players and then rewarded/paid them to do it.

  2. Its just like someone who hasn’t seen the playing field in almost 35 years to voice their opinion. Sounds like zFran misses being the center of attention!

  3. Lightin up Francis.The NFL is all about 2nd chances!!!Hell the NFL has given a bunch of the Viking players a 2nd chances.CC,Randy Moss, the “Boat Rape”calm little fella?

  4. I sure ole Fran would love for Williams to be imprisoned at for him to be his cellmate. Lol……

  5. Love what you did for the game Tarketon….but seriously?? imprisonment is a bit dramatic.

    I’d also wouldn’t want to see Williams banned , however it now will be very hard for him to find another job in the league if/when the Rams terminate his contract.

  6. Williams won’t be imprisoned anytime soon because there’s not enough evidence (that we know of at least) of any intent to severely injure a player. Someone would seriously have to blow the whistle for there to be any chance of a charge in the future.

    There are still more holes in this Saints bounty program that need to be uncovered.

  7. Off the subject and with the disclaimer, I’m a life time Vikings fan, why won’t Tarkenton go away? I am so tired of hearing about him or Joe Namath saying something. Move on please!

  8. the name of kramer’s book is, “distant replay.” and like i keep tellin’ these folk in ATL that the “bounty” thing has been going on in the nfl since waaaaay back! that don’t make what the saints did okay, but everybody in the nfl is playin’ stupid and acting like they’ve NEVER heard of stuff like this! and, tarkenton is ALWAYS angry about something! he makes infrequent appearances on ATL sports radio and is always goin’ off on SOMEthing or SOMEone!

  9. Funny thing about Gregg, when he coached the Packers they were among the dirtiest teams of all time. I am a Packer fan and have been one since 1966 but those years of him coaching I almost quit being one.

  10. Given Tarkenton’s history of sleazy financial dealings, I’m not sure he’s the best arbiter of legalities.

  11. Fran is right…. also You can believe it that there are DAs all over the place figuring out how to bring charges….

    and a public recording of the guy offering money in exchange for injury almost guarantees charges are coming.

  12. Its titled “Instant Replay” and was written with Dick Schaap. Mike Freeman details in a solid bio on Jim Brown of how the New York Giants attempted to gouge his eyes out…the league used to be brutal..and no one should desire the likes of George Atkinson to return…

  13. While I don’t disagree with everything he has to say, I have a much more important question to ask. Doe anyone outside the state of Minnesota care about anything Fran Tarkenton has to say?

  14. I’m sure Johnny Unitas is rolling over in his grave at how sensitive the NFL has become. I did not see one illegal hit in that hit reel that NFLN keeps playing and that is under todays rules. Look up hits from Unitas’, Tarkenton’s and Montana’s days if you want to see your “dirty” hits.

  15. How is this much different than paying a co-worker to spit in a customers food, or a doctor paying a nurse to botch some stitches, or a pharmacist paying a tech to short some pills, or etc.

    Only difference is that it is happening to a part of the population that excludes the average joe. It could fall under a modern day “mafia” hit. Greg Williams is the Don of the family. I say go after him in any legal venue possible.

  16. I’m trying to come up with any reason that I can to disagree with him because on the surface it does sound a little ridiculous. But you know what? He’s right.
    Apply this same scenario to any real life situation and what you would have would be assault with intent to do bodily harm.
    If I went out on the street and intentionally hurt someone then I would be charged with a crime. That’s what these guys did. Should it really matter if it was on a football field or on the street? In my opinion no.
    If Williams is ever allowed to coach another down in the NFL it would be a travesty.

  17. Just because an Attorney General hasn’t pursued convictions in the past doesn’t mean that these aren’t crimes and can’t be pursued now. IMO, this can be prosecuted as a criminal enterprise, federal RICO charges.

  18. With all the outrage from Saints fans, also known as voters, don’t hold your breath waiting for an elected official to bring charges on something like this. If someone had been seriously hurt or killed, ok. But not for this.

  19. As long as the press gives Fran a sounding board for his self-righteous opinions about present day football, it does’nt matter where you live, everybody is going to have the privilage of his rantings!!! Ughhh!!

  20. Tarkington actually got so angry during this interview that he threw his Vikings super bowl ring across the…..um, wait a minute….

  21. Saints25: “Boat Rape”? It was called the love boat, not the rape boat. Our players nail chicks, your team nails dudes.

  22. randomguy9999 – totally incorrect…..everything that happened happened ON the football field..AND happened in the context of play. Now, sure, there could be some dopey attorney trying to move something forward but there is no case……period…….if it DID than every sport would be sued to the point that every sport would have to close down…..a pitcher throwing at a batter…..file a lawsuit…a hockey player checking someone…file a lawsuit….NOT HAPPENING

  23. what is up with knuckleheads keep talking imprisonment and crime…it’s hilarious…G-Dubb audio was quite funny and defensive players were just laughing at Gregg and he’s really a soft coach…players don’t intend or want to injure another player…injuries are apart of the game and a player or coach can’t go to jail…folks are really ignorant to believe this crap…Tarkenton is a bum, there were bounties in his day also…he needs to shut his old A$$ up!

  24. I played football at the low level of highschool and we knocked people out and hurt anyone we could but we did it legally. to take cheap shots is pathetic and unethical period.

    At the very least its cheating and the worse criminal. i thought super bowl XLwas bad but this is agregeous in my opinion. listen to john clayton on this subject i think he’s got it right.

  25. There were 2 books, Instant Replay was the first. It was a day by day account of the 1967 Championship season. Distant Replay the second was written at the start of the Holmgren era

  26. And the race to see who could be the most outraged continues. by the way, they cut out the last paste of the interview, where Tarkenton was asked about being in the same locker room as the Purple People Eaters. Tarkenton said, ” oh yeah, I heard them talk all the time. It would be like, ‘now Carl! Before I got to law school and get on the Supreme Court, I would like to be a part of a defense that plays tough football but doesn’t hurt or scare people too much.’ Alan, Carl said, I agree and I plan to make sure I impress football fans everyone with the finest form talking NFL Films has ever shot! I’ll be on their “cleanest tackles in history” series for decades! Then Gary said, hey Jim tell us why you really ran the wrong way, and Jim said, ” because those offensive players were hurting and I knew that if I had run the right way, they’d have to hit me and it would sting them even more. I couldn’t have that. Pass the Grey Poupon please.”

  27. I don’t get why this saints thing is even a story. A guy offered his players money to hit guys, how many of these bounties were paid? What players were injured? Slap the people involved with fines and move on!

  28. Comparing what happened in the 50’s to now is just stupid. Back then cars didn’t have seat belts and it wasn’t illegal to drink and drive so why not bring that up next a guy gets pinched for DUI? So it doesn’t matter what happened 60 years ago all that matters is what happens from here on out. Obviously the NFL isn’t going to accept this type of behavior so teams need to adbide by the rules or pay the price.
    Also I don’t know if G-Dub should go to jail but soliciting someone to inflict harm on another person regardless of injury or death is still illegal.

  29. Anything bad will get out of hand exponentially when you dont keep it in check, but when its institutionalized i.e. through the coaches, it becomes a culture problem, and how do you solve a bad taintful converting harmful culture already in the environment? A lot of people will be getting the permanent pink slip until its all said and done, if it ever really ends.

    Personal opinion I say let it rip, someone will sort’em out.

  30. For what these guys get paid today.. I say let them wear leather helmets and go “Jim Thorpe” on each other!

  31. Say what you want about BB in New England about how he handles the injury report. But im pretty sure he knows the extent of what actually transpires during a football game regarding how opposing players target YOUR player’s injuries. Its no wonder he’s willing to risk pesky little fines or penalties over the issue.

    Imagine if anyone knew that Brady had cracked ribs two seasons ago. Im sure someone would have been more than happy to take a 15 yd penalty to pile drive Brady into the ground and end his season and possibly his career. Its obvious the better move was to lie about the injury and suffer the consequences of lying rather than suffer the consequences of losing Brady for good.

    Imagine if Brett Favre listed all his injuries? Oh wait he did….Well i guess thats why he’s not playing….Oh wait thats because he’s 50…Damn it.

    FU Favre

  32. What I still don’t get is why some football players are so cowardly about playing another team. I guess it’s a “win at any cost” mentality, but if you remove the other team’s best player(s), you’re no longer playing the same team. It’s like beating the Colts last year without Peyton–big whoop–but if you could beat the Colts WITH Peyton playing, now you know you have something to be proud of. Unlike when the Saints beat the Vikings by crippling Favre. “We beat the Vikings (by crippling their QB, thus showing what cowards we really are)!!” I guess I’m just amazed that there are so many “brave” men in the NFL with no moral compass who are so cowardly about playing against another team that’s at full strength. If you don’t think you can beat the other team without injuring their best player, then you shouldn’t play the game.

  33. Establishing a quid pro quo with people to intentionally hurt someone else is a felony known as conspiracy, even if the underlying assault/battery would not rise above a misdemeanor. Using the conduit of a contact sport doesn’t make this not so. Last I checked, people go to prison for felonies.

    The NFL isn’t Rollerball…

  34. Say what you want about Fran Tarkenton, he was absolutely one of the MOST entertaining and exciting QB’s to Ever pay the game. I’ve watched him run 50-60 yards to throw a 8-9 yard pass. The guy was the definition of elusive. Hated him then, but see now what helped make the game so great. Thanks for the memories Fran, Archie, Johnny U, Jim Brown, Dick Butkus and others. When they put the pads on, it became a bounty hunt, not a gate

  35. How many days, weeks, months or years will this feeding frenzy continue? Williams will be forever more bastardized by this scandal. Players suing one person??? It could possibly lead to other payers carrying out such deeds and maybe even the team being sued.

    I used to laugh and pity the team during the 70s and part of the 80s. Keep your pseudo trophy because every other fan knows it was not truly earned and is laughing at you for cherishing it.

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