Chiefs preached “Kill the head and the body will die,” too

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.

59 responses to “Chiefs preached “Kill the head and the body will die,” too

  1. Considering that Gunther Cunningham and Tim Krumrie were in charge of that stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a literal interpretation of that quote.

    Of course, it could also just mean that pressuring the quarterback disrupts the rest of the offense.

  2. Football players try to hurt each other, football is dangerous, yeah, yeah we get it. Enough with the fake outrage already. If you don’t want to get hit, play in a flag league. If you want to make millions playing on the biggest stage in America, getting hit in the head is the risk you take.

  3. Time to ‘Kill’ the Chiefs. Hear that Chief’s fans? No more ragging on the Saints, it’s time to defend your team.

    Oh wait a minute, wasn’t Herm Edwards against this whole ‘Kill the Head, tear the ACL thing?’

  4. Well, well, well! Very interesting.

    Maybe the league will concentrate on real evidence such as identifing the illegal hits in THIS investigation.

  5. Another piece of evidence bites the dust.
    …and another one gone and another one gone,
    another piece of evidence bites the dust,
    Hey, Goodells gonna get to you!
    Another piece of evidence bites the dust!

    Cue the: but but but the coaches admitted to it…

  6. That could very simply mean, if you pound on (not intentionally hurt) the Quaterback (the “head” of the offense), eventually the entire offense will fail.

    That goes along with the exaggeration of many personalities in many sports, using terms like “kill”, “war”, “battle”, “destroy”, etc. Nothing to be too worked up about, unless provided in a specific context.

  7.’s a common phrase. kill the head of something and the body will die. so for williams, it was

    “take out the QB (head) and the body (the rest of the team) will die”

    super simple. he’s still a scumbag of the highest order, but he wasn’t referring to the literal head of the QB. (at least it doesn’t seem that way to me)

  8. It is a motto used often in football but this does not mean there was a bounty program in Kansas City. I am sure after Roger Goodell goes into spin mode that some weak minded idiots will think the Chiefs had a bounty program during that season.

  9. Language as a form of motivation is fine. I see no problem with such metaphors. It’s when money is being offered that there lies a problem.

    Don’t wussify football! Coach Lombardi must be rolling in his grave.

  10. It’s not a surprise to anyone, but when that tape is part of the basis of the NFL’s stout evidence, it loses some luster.

    More and more of the sheep are leaving the flock, which is good.

    Who Dat

  11. It is not the phrase that was the problem. It is easily argued that it is a figure of speech that translates to destroying a player’s will to perform. The problem with the Saints stuff is that he/they took it too far. Williams spoke of specific players and injuries. “Make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head,” is not an issue. “We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake (expletive) prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy. … He’s human when we (expletive) take out that outside ACL” is a BIG issue. There were other statements like that. The generalizations like the one in the pic happen all over the league but the targeting of specific injuries/players is hopefully something that has been squashed by Goodell’s harshness in “bountygate”.

  12. Yeah, before “bountygate” it was a common metaphor used in many situations. Meaning mostly, if you take out the most important member of an opposing unit (or the “head”, like a general), the rest of that unit will fall apart.

    Besides being a common phrase used in battle, it refers back to mythology, when you had to kill certain beasts, or dragons, or whatever by killing the head, instead of a less vulnerable part. This was commonly understood until Goodell’s PR machine got a hold of it and twisted it to fit his agenda.

    No explanation for the ACL talk (which I don’t like, as a civilian), except that no one came close to following through with it. GW then went on to talk about knocking over the coaches on the sideline and the first few rows of spectators. So again, not literal talk–nothing outside the scope of “we’re going to destroy them.”

  13. What I don’t get is that all through playing football, you know that if you knock out a key player, then things tend to tip your way. I know folks that played at higher levels who would never want to end anyone’s career, but would they like to knock a key player out of a game? Heck yeah they would!

  14. Settle down Saints fans… no one will care about this just like no one cared the Jets were caught taping at Foxboro in the playoffs before they turned the Pats in the next season.

  15. Will Rog investigate this? Since this is damning evidence in the case against the Saints, shouldn’t it be just as damning for the Chiefs? What a hypocrite Herm Edwards is! He was VERY vocal about Gregg Williams choice of motivational words.

  16. I am a patriots fan the giants also said this but they didnt take cheap I have no problem with this it’s just an invite for saints fan to say see they did it and that they were innocent even though they did it

  17. Well, clearly, this motto has worked for the Chefs. Look at their year-in-year-out dominance in the league. Their lone SuperBowl win from 42-years ago (did they even have color TV then?) must strike fear into the hearts of all who cross those demons!!!

  18. Should not be a suprise for any real fan of football. Its part of the culture. 90% of pre-game speeches had some kind of threat in it. Just the fact that this was brought up, shows the error in the Saints bounty case. Nfl films might as well fold. Players are gonna not gonna stand next to any mic’d up player/coach. Look at how they slayed Hargrove.

  19. I continue to be troubled by the way coverage of this has been going; it seems to me that this site is constantly looking for hypocrisy and will find it anywhere that it can in order to drum up a controversy. In this particular instance, there is a marked difference between this common phrase and the phrase uttered by Williams. Whereas you see repetition of individual elements that, thus, clearly point to a widespread tradition that suffuses the NFL more generally and thus discounts the validity of the NFL’s investigation, I think you miss the point.

    Here’s the phrase: kill the head and the body will die
    Here’s Williams’s phrase, which you quote above: “Make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head”

    While I think you’re right to point out that there is some marked similarity in terminology, I think you’re jumping the gun; after all, it’s almost too good to believe that the NFL network would post a video that immediately contradicts the validity of their evidence.

    Ultimately, though, the only thing I see similar in these two quotes is the repetition of two words: ‘kill’ and ‘head.’

    Instead, it seems to me that these statements are vastly different. One is an abstract statementthat is meant metaphorically; it’s significant as well that we’re all familiar with this phrase and would typically understand it metaphorically. Defeat the intellect and brute force can’t endure, it seems to say. The other uttered by Williams is grossly personal. “kill Frank Gore’s head” is not abstract, is not something that can be interpreted. It is intensely literal and completely eschews anything metaphorical.

    What this seems to illustrate instead is the way that Williams perverted the mores of the NFL. He took an abstract concept, defeating an opponent’s intellect, and reduced it to a base literal assertion that resulted in the physical exchange of money. This moment, then, doesn’t speak to the hypocrisy of the NFL’s investigation, but the ways in which Williams made a sham of the culture of which he was a part.

  20. the problem for me wasn’t the metaphors football is a violent sport no one denies that and football players and fans all do it.We love to make football out to be some type of war, ufc, battleship, crack your skull thing but that just adds to the excitement of the sport.Where is the motivational poster that says “He becomes human when you f***ing take out that outside ACL.” thats the problem. The issue is not the metaphors, that comment was plain and direct on what he wanted.

  21. Hulk chiefs beat Cleveland two years ago And I don’t think the chiefs scored an offensive td. Lol

  22. FinFan68 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:31 PM

    It is not the phrase that was the problem. It is easily argued that it is a figure of speech that translates to destroying a player’s will to perform. The problem with the Saints stuff is that he/they took it too far. Williams spoke of specific players and injuries. “Make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head,” is not an issue. “We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake (expletive) prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy. … He’s human when we (expletive) take out that outside ACL” is a BIG issue. There were other statements like that. The generalizations like the one in the pic happen all over the league but the targeting of specific injuries/players is hopefully something that has been squashed by Goodell’s harshness in “bountygate”.
    Who are the 15 people who dislike this to the 12 who do? This point is spot on. Please those out there who disliked it, explain? I’m assuming it’s all bitter Saints fans.

  23. Tim Krumrie was the Defensive Line coach under Gregg Williams in Buffalo. He probably heard Williams use that saying in every meeting. It’s not surprising that that slogan would be found in the Defensive Line meeting room.

  24. Let’s see, Tim Krumrie coached under Gregg Williams in Buffalo.

    Gregg Williams had a bounty system in New Orleans where he preached “Kill the Head”.

    Tim Krumrie coached in KC, where they preached “Kill the Head”.

    1 + 1 = 2

  25. Let’s see…..did the Chiefs also preach “Take out the ACL (of the guy who recently tore his ACL)”? Or “Take out the ankle (of the guy whose ankle is hurt)?”

    No? So you mean this post was just another in an infinite string of baiting posts for Saints fans to pretend their team did nothing wrong? Like 90% of the other posts on this site these days?

  26. Ok, I’ll play. Cue up haters. What if the context was psychological? If you get inside a players head, it often indeed affects their reactions. If a player knows he’s gonna get tagged every time he crosses the line, he’s gonna start looking & tip-toeing. At least that’s what I heard and often observed every week from kiddie ball to my first year in college as a defensive player. As well as every subsequent (25) year after that as an athletic trainer.

  27. It wasn’t the kill the head thing for me. It was when he told them to take out Crabtree’s ACL out of bounds. Call me Warren Sapp, but I bet you don’t here that one every day. What’s funny in boxing the point is to knockout somebody. And in boxing the expression goes like this…”kill the body to get to the head”. That’s right, they believe you can’t kill the head until you’ve beaten the body enough. But I guess that shows how much more danger a head is in during a game of football than boxing. I wouldn’t have thought it but it’s so.

    But the point remains that there is more going on behind closed doors than some people would be comfortable with on every NFL team. But there is at your local restaurant too. And your local hospital. And at a rock concert too. The question is at what point is what is going on behind closed doors too much of a liability for the general public health or good. We haven’t put a stop to drug binging in the dressing room by rock stars, because it does not effect the general public in this way. Now in the restaurant and hospital, there are random inspection and other things to help keep under control what happens behind closed doors. So I’m not sure if this Kill the Head poster crosses that line or not. Was it motivational and figurative, meaning “pressure and hit the QB, get him flustered and the whole offense crumbles. Or does it mean it literally, like, “get out there and hunt some heads!”

  28. That’s cute Chiefs. We had a saying, “Facemask to shins let’s see what wins” and it absolutely meant to dive at some of the big uglys and cut block those big boys in the shins with your facemask because they are too slow to get out of the way or block that. Great way to slow or take out D Line guys.

  29. Also, let’s not act like Gregg Williams didn’t specifically tell his players to injure other players.

    He did, and we all heard it:

    – Go after Vernon Davis’ ACL; does it get much clearer than this?

    – Kill Frank Gore’s head; not “kill the head”, “we need to kill Frank Gore’s head”…in my mind that’s pretty clear

  30. Come on ESPN Edwards works there, grill him! Get him on a 1 on1 conversationa nd see what he says! DO NOT COVER THIS UP! HE TRIED TO KILL PEOPLE!

  31. the ACL comments from Williams were what bothered me. Kill the head isn’t much different from saying kill the qb. Lots of guys say that.

  32. They are the Chefs. They cut the head off, and put on a little BBQ. What’s the beef with that?

  33. clw1906 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:49 PM

    But it’s accurate if you kill the head the body will absolutely die.


    are you sure it wasn’t
    “kill the wife and the insurance money is yours”?

    damn…I’ll never get it straight…

  34. Disclaimer: chiefs fan

    #1: did league tell KC to stop.

    A. If yes, fry them

    B. if no. Don’t do that $@#! again.

    Let’s move on.

  35. Let’s just live in reality:

    How else do you get the point across to meat-heads with generally low intelligence levels?

    You paint meat-head words in big letters everywhere they turn! Pretty smart thinking by the chiefs …

    Gregg Williams was such an arrogant idiot he actually assumed they were listening.

  36. I have patiently listened to this complete bounty BS now for a year and I have had enough. Is anyone stupid enough to think that any NFL player is going to act / tackle/ make split second decisions/aim for the head… or anything else based on a couple of hundred dollars incentive? They are going to act/ tackle/ make decisions because they want to win the game, improve their record and/or advance in the post season. The rhetoric or motivation in the locker room does not change the intent and inherent violence in the game. This entire bounty gate is a red herring. I’m taking out Bret Favre because I want to win. Period. Not because I gain $1000 on top of my $5000000 salary.

  37. To all of you who use the alc defense, let me remind you that the Giants, who played San Fran the following week, readily admitted that they went after Kyle Williams shoulder AND head because his shoulder was bad and he had suffered a concussion. How did that turn out for them? WIlliams fumbles in OT, Giants go to the Superbowl. You cant pick and choose, hypocrites. Just because you dont have them on tape saying it, doesn’t make it less true. But then again, them admitting it in the press isn’t enough.

    Are you really that naive that you cant see past all the hypocrisy in this?

  38. Isn’t it about time that the Chiefs move to a city that matters…..maybe Omaha?

  39. I really don’t think this is a big deal. That phrase could mean anything and can’t be taken out of context. It is probably just a figure of speech. Hey, unplug the tv and it will stop working or ignore the bully and he will stop. Don’t blow it out of proportion until it is explained what it really meant to whoever wrote it or preached it. I’m sure it doesn’t mean go knock that SOB’s mouthpiece off every time you tackle someone, probably a bit deeper. Relax

  40. @defscottyb

    exactly, it is not a big deal. That is the point. So many media outlet’s and general public were appalled when they heard the Greg williams audio stating this. It’s a figure of speech and nothing more.

    Also, for all those saying Williams said “take out Davis’ ACL” He did not say this. He said “test the ACL”. every team takes notice of injuries on other teams and always will. [e.g. test his left side (ACL side), and see if he can use it]

  41. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, but I suspect we’ll find a LOT more evidence of “targeting the head” in the coming years.

  42. “Football players try to hurt each other, football is dangerous, yeah, yeah we get it…If you want to make millions playing on the biggest stage in America, getting hit in the head is the risk you take.”

    The physics of football, like hockey, require heads to be off-limits. I agree that getting hit in the head is the risk you take playing football, just as it is in hockey. But I think it should not be a premediated head hunting. It’s only a game and a reflection of the society in which it exists.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.