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Packers Dodged A Bullet When Williams Turned Them Down

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Packers Dodged A Bullet When Williams Turned Them Down

Back in January of 2009 Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was working to replace defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, who McCarthy fired after the 2008 season. Reports at the time had McCarthy first offering the job to Mike Nolan, who had worked with McCarthy in San Francisco. Nolan turned down McCarthy to go work for Josh McDaniels in Denver. Next McCarthy reportedly offered to hand the reigns of his defense over to Gregg Williams, who ended up choosing the New Orleans Saints instead.

Talk about your close calls.

As everyone knows now, McCarthy ended up hiring long-time defensive guru Dom Capers to turn his defense around and the two have a Super Bowl ring to show for their partnership. Williams of course has his own Super Bowl ring, having helped the Saints win a championship of their own the year before the Packers did.

Williams is also staring down the barrel of what could possibly be a lifetime suspension from the NFL.

After the NFL dropped its bombshell on Friday afternoon regarding its investigation into Williams' defense in New Orleans and its participation in what is known as a "bounty" system, where players were, among other things, paid a nominal cash bonus for taking certain players out of a game due to injury, reports have started to surface about the other stops along Williams' coaching career.

Williams was administering a bounty system in New Orleans.

Williams was administering a bounty system in Washington.

Williams was administering a bounty system in Buffalo.

Williams was administering a bounty system in Tennessee.

And yes, you can bet that had he taken McCarthy's offer, he would have been administering a bounty system in Green Bay.

The thing that makes the situation in New Orleans so grotesque is the knowledge that both the head coach and general manager had of what was going on and how nothing was done about it. Nothing. Would Mike McCarthy or Ted Thompson have turned the same blind eye? My gut says no, but that's providing that they would have known about it. My hunch is that Williams did little to keep the bounty system under wraps from Payton because this particular head coach had the type of disposition where he didn't seem to have a problem with it. In earlier stops, such as with the Redskins under Joe Gibbs, the head coach was reportedly kept in the dark - most likely because Williams knew Gibbs would object to the practice.

With nothing but my impression of McCarthy to work from, I get the sense that McCarthy would not have been told.

Now, lets be clear about what we're talking about here, for the crowd that likes to parrot some version of the line "This has been around forever. Every team has a sort of self-contained pay-for-performance aspect to it." Yes, but there is a big difference between the Packers' receivers buying each other Best Buy gift cards and their coordinator offering his own money to his players for them to injure key opposing players and take them out of the game.

As one of Williams' former players told the Washington Post:

He called it a ‘kill shot,’ meaning you got good money for taking another player out of the game who meant something to that team. I never got money myself, but I know folks who did. Sean Taylor made more money than all of us, I can tell you that.

Now, there are Packers fans out there that probably wouldn't mind a little more nastiness out of their teams' defense, to see a 'kill shot' or two administered on their opponents, to which I say - not like this. The intent is to stop the offense and in the process make them remember who did so. The intent should never be to intentionally hurt someone. Will injuries happen? Of course, its a brutal game. But participating in brutality doesn't mean automatically reducing the men on the field into monsters. Football is a violent game, but there is a right way and a wrong way to play it, and I happen to think Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have done a good job making sure their team plays the game the right way.

Both of them dodged a major bullet when Gregg Williams decided to coach in New Orleans rather than in Green Bay. The NFL is reportedly mulling over severe punishments not only for Williams but for Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and fines and draft pick losses for the Saints organization - not to mention the fact that the Saints could be held liable in court.

The Packers got lucky.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (37) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ron's picture

Heavy fines,loss of Superbowl trophy, loss of a years worth of draft picks, league suspension of the D-coordinator. That would end the practice permanently...and it needs to be ended permanently. There are no guaranteed contracts in the NFL.

Kris Burke's picture

I also think with the caliber of the men in that locker room, someone would have blown the whistle and brought anything like that to a screeching halt. Williams would have been out of GB so fast.

Thompson and McCarthy have zero tolerance for this kind of BS.

I agree with Aaron though. Bullet dodged. Big time.

PackerBelle's picture

"Yes, but there is a big difference between the Packers' receivers buying each other Best Buy gift cards and their coordinator offering his own money to his players for them to injure key opposing players and take them out of the game."

This I think is key. Play hard, play 'nasty', play aggressive but the intent should never be to hurt someone enough to take the out of the game. That is cheap and it should have no place in the game.

ceallaigh's picture

How about the other unspoken silent accomplice here. What about Drew Brees? He's lauded over and over again for upstanding moral this and exceptional character that.

How could he have his head buried so deep in the sand that he either 1. had no clue what was going on in his own locker room and 2. if he he was aware of the breadth of this plan to main other teams for cash he sat silent and did nothing.

That makes you just as guilty. Shame on him.

Jer's picture

I'm not sure the offenses would be too aware of what the defense is doing. I think they go their separate ways for the most part. I could be wrong, though.

Corwin's picture

From Chris Kluwe on Twitter: "I wonder if one of Gregg Williams' defensive schemes is called "Sweep The Leg, Johnny". #puthiminabodybag"

BubbaOne's picture

The NFL coaching community is a small tight knit group; defensive side approx 200-250 coaches. I'm going to play the skeptic.
This "bounty" was practiced at all four of Williams stops and no HC or GM knew anything til N.O. Players who played under Williams didn't tell their friends on opposing teams "hey, keep your head on a swivel when we play you", or when Williams moved on players didn't tell new guys arriving "you should have seen what we use to do" or when players moved on from Williams they didn't say "Hey, why don't you guys have a "bounty" system like we had."

The locker room is also a tight knit place. So equipment mgrs, trainers, offensive players and coaches didn't know anything, really?
I find it hard to believe no one knew nuthin'. I think what's more likely is teams not wanting to know and adopting the attitude..."Just win, baby".

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm with you. Stuff leaks out. The only shocking thing here is that they weren't smart enough to knock it off for a while after the first round of investigations came up short. Maybe they didn't think it mattered. Maybe they assumed that everyone else does it too. Maybe a lot of teams have done it - but I'm glad that the NFL is taking steps now. As much as I have a distaste for BLF, I never wanted to see a bounty put on him.

aussiepacker's picture

So technically you could say we pick at 27 now?

BubbaOne's picture

No, N.O. doesn't have a 1st round pick this year. It was part of the trade last year when they acquired Mark Ingram.

The early line based on N.E. losing a 1st for spygate is they'll lose a 2nd or 3rd this year and a 1st next year.

Ken's picture

This is the most overrated story in recent memory.

32 teams do this.

The Saints got pulled over going 75 MPH on Hwy. 41 in Oshkosh.

packeraaron's picture

<em>32 teams do this.</em>

EXACTLY this? I'm not so sure.

Also, I'm pretty sure folks with the Saints organization and their fans don't think this story is "overrated" especially when they start losing coaches and players to suspension along with multiple draft picks.

Chad Toporski's picture

Oh, ok. So if everyone else in the city is raping and murdering each other, then it's fine.

But if only one person does it, then it's not.

What an interesting set of ethics and morals you must have...

Ken's picture

I will be shocked if any current coach or player is suspended. Maybe Williams gets 4 games in St. Louis.

They should not lose a draft choice, or at most a D6 or D7.

This is along the lines of four buddies playing golf and settling up at the bar after.

I'm not condoning this. It just seems Goodell is overstepping his grounds. A 50,000 page investigation? Did they use size 42 font?

CSS's picture

Jim Tressel was suspended 8 games for a far lesser incident that didn't even occur in the professional ranks (tattoos vs. player safety). Anything less than this and Goodell will look soft, not to mention the possibility of personal injury attorneys being retained by any former player potentially affected by this.

Chris Davis's picture

I agree. The NFL will have no choice but to suspend Williams from ever being in the NFL again. The Legal ramifications are overwhelming. If Tressel took the fall out because of what occured...what about the head coach?

packeraaron's picture

<em>I will be shocked if any current coach or player is suspended</em>

Get ready to be shocked.

BubbaOne's picture

Ken, don't look now but the guy standing next to you has a taser.

Ken's picture

Myself to Roger Goodell: “Don’t tase me bro!”

Well the Saints do come up here this year, so hopefully I’m wrong.

Point Packer's picture

Williams is done for at least half the year if not the year. Given the NFL's emphasis player safety, Mr. Williams just did a great job of making himself an example.

As Aaron said, get ready to be shocked.

CSS's picture

Can somebody reach out to Ken and see if he's ok?

Ken's picture

Myself to Roger Goodell: "Don't tase me bro!"

Well the Saints do come up here this year, so hopefully I'm wrong.

MarkinMadison's picture

With all of the lawsuits for concussions, you think that the NFL is going to ignore its own policy against bounties and give these guys a "slap on the wrist for speeding," or do you think they are going to beat the crap out of the Saints and crow to the world about how much they care about player safety? Yeah, the question answers itself.

Ken's picture

Goodell is a complete ape, so you're probably right.

But what defensive player isn't trying to knock the QB out of a game? This whole thing is stupid to me.

CSS's picture

"But what defensive player isn’t trying to knock the QB out of a game?"

Over the last 5 years the vast majority of defenders, when given a clean path to the quarterback, have opted to tackle and strip over the 'knockout' hit.

So no, I don't believe they're trying to knock him out of the game.

Ruppert's picture

Ken, the league HAS to come out with a ton of punishment. Why? Liability.

The league's recent Stalin-like fines and punishments involving player safety are likely happening because the league is preparing for the (possibly) eventual class-action suit involving brain injuries. If some lawyer can prove the league approved/condoned/looked the other way at a pay-for-injury scheme, it will REALLY hurt their defense. The league has to show that it is going wayyy overboard to protect the players or it could end up costing them billions of dollars down the road.

Personally, I don't care who got paid for what. But Goodell is going to come down hard because he has no choice.

Ken's picture

If the league really cared about this thing, wouldn't Goodell have informed Jeff Fisher -- who's worked on league committees for years including his year away in 2011 -- that Williams was about to be suspended for this "three-year" investigation?

I understand the liability, but I'm not sure how one can prove a hit was exemplified by a bounty?

Linebackers hit. Defensive ends hit. It's what they do.

FITZCORE1252&#039;s EVO's picture

" Now, there are Packers fans out there that probably wouldn't mind a little more nastiness out of their teams' defense, to see a 'kill shot' or two administered on their opponents, to which I say - not like this."... Not like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECfRp-jwbI4&amp;feature=youtube_gdata_player

GBP 4 LIFE

Bearmeat's picture

Major, Major bullet dodged here.

I remember thinking in 09: "Man, I WISH we had Williams running Kampy, Collins and Barnett in a 4/3!"

Whew.

cow42's picture

I hear that the Packers currently do have a bounty system in place.
No one's ever found out about it because no player has ever earned a payment.

lebowski's picture

Jeff Fisher has held an influential position on the league's Competition Committee for a long time. He's also Williams' best friend in the league and undoubtedly his closest confidant. Those two things don't jive.

Fish/crane's picture

Packers had a reverse bounty system in place last year. Any player who tackled an opponent got fined.

Nononsense's picture

So the message is: If your gonna break the rules, don't get caught.

Im acually surprised it took this long for this information to come out. If hes really been using this kind of bounty system in all of his coaching stops, thats a lot of players knowing your dirty little secret.

Either he ran into someone who didn't approve or he just simply pissed off the wrong player or person.

June's picture

So how do they suspend players? Weren't all the players on defense involved in this??

bomdad's picture

Not only are we lucky about Gregg "ask me about that extra g" Williams, but Payton also had that pain killer cover up.

CSS's picture

Kyle Turley (former Saints lineman) had an interesting take on Drew Brees culpability in all of this. He said Brees, the Saints Union rep. and the NFLPA executive rep for the players union should face a lengthy suspension if he knew of this on any level.

http://larrybrownsports.com/football/kyle-turley-drew-brees-suspended-bo...

I completely agree.

ceallaigh's picture

Exactly.

You can argue the defense and the offense work in different worlds during most of the week and come together on Sunday. But Drew Brees is the leader of the team and their union rep. To say he never heard an inkling of this until just now is just ridiculous. If a bounty program aimed at maiming offensive opponents--especially quarterbacks--was that all encompassing in that New Orleans defense, it makes you wonder if they joked about it everytime Brees got tagged in practice. To think he knew nothing about it, one would need to take a leap of faith and assume the team leader went about his day with his head completely buried up his rear.

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