Wherever Gregg Williams has gone in the NFL, his defenses have always been praised for being hard-hitting and aggressive. That’s the way to play the game of football. In fact it is the only way to play the game of football on defense and it’s the only way Williams has taught his players. However, if the reports are true that Williams ran a bounty program with an intention to injure opponents, it crosses the line and he could merit some sort of severe punishment from the league. While I wish I could say this news is surprising, it really isn’t.
Football is a violent game and players put their lives on the line at times all for the sake of winning. On defense, players are trying to lay the hardest, cleanest hit possible on the opposing player. The intention should never be to injure and it probably isn’t. However the intention is to win and to think that players wouldn’t go to great lengths to make that a reality is naive. Fred Smoot joined 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. to talk about his reaction to the alleged bounty system under Gregg Williams, if Gregg Williams ever gave extra incentive to take a player out of a game, if this thing could’ve evolved when he got to New Orleans, if he can see a punishment being handed down, and whether he or any of his teammates were paid for taking an opposing player out of the game.
On his reaction to the possible bounty system under Gregg Williams:
“First of all I want to correct people, it was never a system. This was a thing that I think started in training camp as players. It started out with who could get the most interceptions, who could get the biggest hit, or who could get the sacks and we took it into games. Gregg never said ‘take out this player or take out this player’ but I’m sorry back when I played football we actually used to hit people. It was legal to go out and hit people. We wanted to be the most physical team and we wanted to inflict pain but in no way possible did we ever want to go out there and end anybody’s career or take somebody truly out of the game.”
So Gregg Williams never said “if you take out this player or that player I’m giving you money?”
“It was never like that. It was more or less we started a pot as a defensive backfield of who could get the most forced fumbles, who could get the most interceptions. It was never a bounty. It was more or less a pot that all of us players put in. Gregg never put in a dime, Gregg never came in and said do this, do this, or do that, we did that ourselves as a way to kind of pump each other up to go make more plays.”
Could this whole thing have evolved when he got to New Orleans and use those words?
“Listen if Gregg ever says ‘let’s make sure we have a remember me hit,’ it was a figure of speech. It was not malicious to take somebody out of the game. Coaching is 50 percent more in the game and 50 percent being a psychologist and knowing how to play mind games and getting your players to come up and play football. That’s something Greg is great at doing. I think sometimes people take sentences out of context.”
So he’s not saying to actually “kill” somebody or injure someone?
“No. No it’s totally opposite man. Just go out there and let’s go out there and set the tone clean. Let’s go win it clean. He never coached dirty football.”
If he thinks punishment will be handed down:
“Yes I can because of how it is being perceived and yes I can because of the New World Order that we call the NFL now. We’re talking about a whole different NFL, we’re talking about an NFL that even the safest players in the game don’t know what’s a fair hit, a legal hit, and what’s just a hard hit. I think he’s trying to change the culture right now so it’s a give and a take when we talk about these things.”
Were any of your teammates ever paid for taking a player out of a game when you were with the Redskins?
“Never. I never saw anyone paid for knocking someone out of the game. Did we, as players, put in pots to make plays, what we called ‘big, splash plays,’ we did that. Players.”
On Gregg allegedly being the one that organized this:
“Let me tell you something, when you get football players in a room, most of the time great football teams wished they had that in New Orleans, wished they had won a championship. I’m sure, and I know Gregg enough to know that he never came into the room and said ‘hey let’s take out the other team’s quarterback so we can win the game.’ Never. Never. I know he didn’t endorse it or anything like that. But us, as players, this has been going on since the 50’s. It’s an in-house thing where how should I say, we reward each other.”