NFL Headhunters

by Ken Hurst, April 18, 2012

When the recording of New Orleans’ Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams’ pre-game speech to his defensive unit about injuring specific players before they played the SF 49ers in the playoffs last season came out, it caused outrage on radio, TV and in newspaper sports. I was struck by the menace in Williams’ voice which indicated he truly meant what he was preaching to his team. Later the news came out that the NO Saints had a bounty program in place that issued money to the defensive players who knocked out opposing players by concussion or any other injury since 2009, their Super Bowl year.

Saints’ Head Coach Sean Payton was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for a year. Williams was suspended indefinitely, and Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt and GM Mickey Loomis for portions of next season.

I think Williams may be out of the NFL for two years or forever.

The 49ers versus Saints game last season looked to be a regular hard-hitting playoff game won by the 49ers in a high scoring game. But when the New Orleans Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the 2010 playoff season as I watched the game unfold on TV, it seemed clear to me that the Saints’ defensive players were trying to knock Brett Favre out of the game. Plus, it appeared to me and the TV game broadcasters that the refs were letting it happen by swallowing their whistle.

I recall in particular a play in which the Saints’ defenders illegally hit Favre high and low and late and the refs never called a penalty. Plus, this play happened after Favre was playing on a sprained ankle as big as a coconut.

To me, it was clear that the whole league and most of its reporters were anti-Favre — it was “group think.” He had the temerity to argue with Green Bay Packers management that he wanted to come back to the Packers and play another year. If he couldn’t quarterback the Packers, he wanted to quarterback the Vikings. The Vikings were a great and competitive rival of the Packers.

Packer management wouldn’t trade him to an NFC rival so they shipped him out to the New York Jets late in the preseason. Favre had two weeks to learn a new system and to gain knowledge about his new teammates. But, in a flash, the New York Jets were 6-0 in the win-loss column and Favre was playing great. Then he tore a biceps tendon and couldn’t throw deep accurately, so the Jets and Favre began to lose.

Then lonely and depressed, he began to text racy photos of himself to a beautiful young game day host of the Jets. Favre was caught and his name was rightfully smeared.

The next season, he was with the Vikings and they reached the NFC Championship game verses the New Orleans Saints. They lost a high scoring game versus the Packers and a very battered Favre was blamed for the loss.

The loss should have been blamed on Viking running back Adrian Peterson because he fumbled four times inside the Saints’ 10-yard line — two times inside the Saints’ 5-yard line.

A. Peterson is one of the finest running backs in the NFL but he is tall and he runs high. A great player had a bad game.

But, Williams’ defensive teams low hits on the quarterback were concealed by the TV commentator who said essentially, “It’s clear the refs are going to let them play today.” like that’s a good thing because the playoffs give the NFL the largest TV ratings share of the season.

If the refs do their job correctly, Williams’ bounty system would never work.

At the corporate level in the NFL Gregg Williams’ unbecoming conduct was treated as a snowflake landing in the Sierra because the St. Louis Rams hired Gregg Williams immediately after his indefinite suspension was announced because Williams is good at what he does.

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