Williams’ tape reveals more skeletons in Saints’ closet

I don’t know if New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has any hobbies outside of football, but now would probably be a good time to pick one up.

On a day where Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt were set to appeal their suspensions stemming from the bounty scandal, disturbing new audio of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams surfaced.

While working on a documentary about former Saints special teams player Steve Gleason (suffering from ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), filmmaker Sean Pamphilon was able to record a “please tell me you’re not recording this” type of speech given by Williams. It was delivered the night before the Saints divisional playoff game against the 49ers this January — which the Saints lost anyway, go figure. Loaded with words you can’t say on television, Williams’ speech was probably a lot like many pregame pep talks, but way more incriminating.

Referring to 49ers running back Frank Gore, Williams said, “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways.”

When talking about backup running back Kendall Hunter, Williams continued, “Little 32, we’re going to knock the f*** out of him.” Despite sounding violent in nature, these comments and Williams’ use of the phrase “kill the head, and the body will die” wouldn’t shock many who’ve been in a football locker room before.

His speech takes a more serious tone, however, when talking about wide receiver Kyle Williams — who was then recovering from recent concussions: “That little wide receiver, No. 10 … We need to f—— put a lick on him now.” These words could be the figurative nails that shut the coffin on Williams’ NFL career, as Pamphilon told Yahoo Sports that he released the audio of the speech because of how uncomfortable Williams’ comments — specifically about Kyle Williams’ concussions — made him feel.

In my opinion, the most alarming part of the audio is when Williams talks about receiver Michael Crabtree: “We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake-ass prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy. We need to find out. He becomes human when we f—— take out that outside ACL.” It’s one thing to tell your players to play physical and hit hard, but it’s completely different to encourage them to target another player’s knee — especially one with a history of knee problems — potentially ending someone’s career and taking food off his family’s table.

Technically it’s not against the rules to use a player’s injury history against them, but it’s definitely unethical. And although Williams never specifically mentions the bounty program, he repeats the phrase “I got the first one” while rubbing his fingers together, indicating cash payment, according to Pamphilon’s recording.

Making the situation worse, this speech took place about a week after the NFL reopened its 2010 investigation into the Saints’ bounty program, after team officials denied such a system existed.

It’s unclear if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had heard this audio before handing down his punishment, but this recent public revelation is going to make it very difficult for Payton (suspended one year), Loomis (eight games) and Vitt (six games) to win their appeals. Not only did they deny the program’s existence but continued its practice after multiple warnings by the league to stop. In addition to the suspensions, the Saints were forced to forfeit their next two second-round picks and fined $500,000.

Williams became a member of the St. Louis Rams’ staff before the penalties were announced. Goodell has since suspended him indefinitely from the league, and there’s no indication he plans to appeal it. Despite telling his players, “We don’t f****** apologize for how we’re going to play,” Williams has publicly apologized twice since the scandal went public. Now I’m not friends with Goodell or anything (yet), but I’ve got a good feeling Pete Rose will get into the Baseball Hall of Fame before Williams is allowed to coach another NFL team.

As far as Payton’s concerned, he should hope Bill Parcells wants to coach the Saints next year and find a good book to read — as it looks like he’s going to have a lot of free time on his hands for the next 12 months.

Kevin is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him @kevinthorn10.