Sometimes, the best thing you can do is not saying anything when it comes to opening the wound of an old scandal.
It would appear Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the former defensive coordinator of the Saints team that was embroiled in the Bountygate scandal, isn’t a fan of that approach.
In an interview with KMOX-Radio in St. Louis, the topic of Bountygate came up and, in many ways, has found a way to portray himself as a victim despite his defense taking shots that ended Kurt Warner’s career and nearly ended Brett Favre’s with the beating he took in the 2009 NFC Championship when playing for the Minnesota Vikings against Williams’ defense with the New Orleans Saints.
Asked about the fallout of Bountygate, Williams seemed to take on the Mafia code of silence, even though he believed the payment of players to knock out opposing quarterbacks was taken out of context by the media in the weeks and months that followed.
“That was a difficult year in a lot of ways because there was a lot of information that was misinformation that got out and I’m the only person in the whole deal that never said anything,” Williams said. “I never said a word. Everybody got out there and pushed their information one way or the other and I didn’t.”
While he came close to admitting that the bounty system was in fact in place, he implied that many teams through history have put a similar practice in place. Yet, at the same time, he maintained that rewarding players for knockout hits didn’t mean his defenders had the intention to hurt the opposing quarterback.
“One of the things was it was on my watch, but there was nothing that hasn’t been done in the last 50 years in the sport,” Williams said. “There was nothing done to try to hurt somebody. There was never (anything) done with anybody trying to injure somebody.”
The idea was that his defenders were paid to take a quarterback out of a game by injuring him, but in Williams’ words “there was nothing done to try to hurt somebody.”
Williams has become quite good at justifying his role in Bountygate. In fact, he believes that big hits are such a part of the game that even kids are rewarded for beating up an opponent if they’re playing defense.
“I take a look at all these high school programs, little league programs, college programs and you see the decals on the side of the helmet and you wonder, you get those decals because you shake hands and kiss after the game or you get those decals because you rushed for 100 and you threw 17 touchdown passes and you knocked the stuffing out of somebody?” Williams said. “I remember over at Excelsior Springs when I’m 16 years old I had a big hit in a ballgame and, all of a sudden, I got a movie certificate and it wasn’t because I helped the guy up, it’s because I knocked the guy down.”
In the end, Williams came off as being non-repentant for his role in Bountygate. He feels he learned from his banishment from the game, but maintains he was railroaded despite being found guilty by just about everyone who saw the evidence that was gathered after the fact. He speaks the party line, perhaps a condition of his NFL parole, but it seems clear Williams hasn’t changed his tune – whether it was in 2009 or 2015.
“It’s just one of those things that we’re always trying to find little bitty advantages in sport and it was unfairly and uncharacteristically portrayed the wrong way,” Williams said. “But I did grow a lot from there and I found out a lot about myself. I found out a lot about my friends. I found out a lot about my enemies, too. I said this about a week into that process: ‘I’m going to be stronger, better, wiser and tougher when we go through these things.’ As I take a look at the game, I’m very happy when I see the things in the National Football League that’s passed down all the way through college, passed down into high school, passed down into little league, NFL Play 60. The game needs to be safer but it’s not a non-contact game and we’re not going to be able to take everything away from it.”
One can only imagine that the Rams will be under the microscope by opponents and former players who may have an axe to grind, because, when you hear Williams talk about his role in Bountygate, you get the sneaking impression that Williams still doesn’t think he and the Saints did anything wrong.
Gregg Williams still defending Bountygate
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