NFLPA knew about contents of Williams audio before tapes were released

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On April 5, the public and the NFL became aware for the first time of recorded comments from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that urge defensive players to target various members of the 49ers offense for injury.  Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the NFLPA was aware of the contents of the tape before the tape was released.

Under an inaccurate headline, which claims that the NFLPA actually had possession of the tapes, Mortensen explains that it’s not known whether the NFLPA actually had possession of the tapes.  At a minimum, former Saints linebacker and NFLPA Executive Committee member Scott Fujita shared with the NFLPA details of Williams’ comments and the contents of the tape that filmmaker Sean Pamphilon “had made accessible” to Fujita.

Although the fact that Fujita knew about the contents of the tape will spark speculation that Fujita was the so-called “mediator” who ultimately gave Pamphilon the green light to release the audio over the objections of former Saints special-teamer Steve Gleason, Mortensen explains that the NFLPA was “somewhat disappointed” by the fact that the tapes were released, since the fact that the league didn’t know about the tape gave the union a strategic advantage in connection with the efforts to minimize or prevent player suspensions.

The argument apparently will be that, by comparing Williams’ comments to the tape of the Saints-49ers playoff game, it’s clear that the players disregarded Williams’ rhetoric.  That’s a contention that likely would be made for most if not all of the three-year bounty program, and it mirrors a strategy that men like Saints coach Sean Payton were expected to employ during the April 12 appeal hearings.  Williams’ words, under this specific argument, reflected an exaggerated effort to get players in the right mindset to play, with no connection between the offers of cash for injury and actual injury.

Another possible argument is that, to the extent tapes of any of the games played by the Saints over the last three seasons suggest an effort to inflict injury on an opposing player (e.g., Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game), the players were coerced by Williams into doing his bidding.

The problem is that those two points don’t necessarily mesh, and the NFLPA ultimately may have to choose between contending that the players ignored Williams and that the players felt compelled to obey him.

Regardless, any element of surprise coming from the tapes was lost the moment Pamphilon decided to publish them.

16 responses to “NFLPA knew about contents of Williams audio before tapes were released

  1. Mike I have never disagreed with you more. This man witnessed illegal activities, and exposed them. You would have done the exact same thing, and if not, turn in your press pass immediately. You may owe a debt to the NFL, but this guy does not!!!!

  2. What we learned here today? NOTHING!

    Sorry Florio I’m not buying that Fujita was a mediator and green lit the release of these tapes. That makes no sense cuz all it does is damage him, his teamates and organization.

    That decision was out of Fujitas hands and Gleason was even blindsided by the release of the tape(s).

    /take a lap.

  3. The job of the NFLPA is to protect its players. If an over the top renegade coach is paying you to put opposing players in carts then the players should have stood up to him. Every Saint player involved should be suspended and fined.

  4. “On April 5, the public and the NFL became aware for the first time of recorded comments from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ”

    Incorrect or at least not clear. Public had no knowledge of speech or recording of it but Morts article clearly states that a source says the League was aware of the speech, just not that it was recorded.

    So either this article is incorrect or poorly written. The ESPN article does a much better job of conveying the info.

  5. I seriously doubt that Fujita green lighted the release of the Pamphilon’s tapes.

    The day the tapes were released, I speculated that it was Goodell’s office that gave the OK for Pamphilon to release the tapes to bolster Goodell’s case to deny any reduction in the penalties Goodell handed down.

    …the timing of the release was just too convenient, coming the very day the Saints were to appeal their punishment in Goodell’s office.

    I do believe Fujita, who was in the recorded meetings and with his connection to the NFLPA, had a good idea what Pamphilon had, but I seriously doubt Fujita or the NFLPA had anything to do with “the timing” of Pamphilon’s release of the tape audio.

  6. Its my understanding that the audio was taken from actual video footage, which clearly showed Williams handing out envelopes of cash to players for the weeks previous bounties. This will show the players as enthusiastic co-conspirators.

  7. Players still put up and/or collected money. So whether their ‘ability’ or ‘intent’ to hurt another player resulted in actual injuries doesn’t void the ‘paying for injuries’.

    I would like to have the fines happen right away so we can move on and enjoy the draft, training camps, preseason games and regular season.

  8. How can anyone respect the NFLPA when they cry out about the need for player safety but even when there is such an extreme case of players being commanded to purposefully inflict injury the NFLPA does nothing.
    What could have happened: Players, if and when they are in disagreement of management’s orders, such as those well documented by coach crazy, the players would go to their union which is appointed to be their advocate and explain the problem. The union then sends out a note to all players where the lines of proper behavior are and a warning not to cross them. The NFLPA then lodges a confidential complaint to the league office about the problem and coach crazy in particular.
    The league may follow up on coach crazy and the organization if it is clear that it supports his insanity, but the players are off the hook. The game itself is not as tarnished, AND THE REST OF US CAN MOVE ON WITHOUT THIS BS!

  9. Fact: only one player was carted off the field during the past three years during a Saints game…..That player: Reggie Bush

  10. Bretto73, feeling like scum is not a far cry from being……Anyway, I’m a die hard Saints fan too, and I couldn’t be more proud of the Saints.

  11. Bottom Line: Saints players ignored Gregg Williams for 3yrs and never carted off any player or intentionally injure another player…Goodell need to worry about these 1200 concussion lawsuits against NFL from former players which is the real issue, instead of entertaining this senseless drama…

  12. It’s clear that the author is not trained in journalism because he is engaging in ‘ shoot the messenger’ rhetoric that compromises the freedom of the press. The fact that Pamphilon reviewed this matter with a NFLPA representative BEFORE he released it to the public may indicated that his concern was for NFLPA crime-on-crime at the direction of their coaches. When Goodell gave the NFLPA the opportunity to ‘recommend’ fair punishment, this is the type of evidence they should have presented. Instead, they passed on the opportunity.

  13. I hope they find out that this Pamphilon guy recorded the audio illegally. To release this material if he was truly concerned is one thing but as more and more info is released his selfish intentions become more evident.
    I know the bounties are a serious issue but I believe that people have taken it overboard.
    Greg Williams probably gave the same tired old speech before every single game. How many players do you think were actually listening to him? I would be willing to bet that most were staring off into space thinking of something else or on their cell phones texting. These players have heard the same speach or since they were in high school. Dont get me wrong Williams deserved the punishment but he also deserves forgiveness and a shot back in the league one year from now.

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