We’re really just talking about a matter of semantics at this point.
I’m referring to Gregg Williams’ now infamous locker room speech. Some have become disgusted by his choice of words or phrases and have lost sight of the actual issue.
Kill the head and the body will die? That’s rah-rah.
We want him running sideways? That’s exactly what I would expect a defensive coach to say to his team right before it’s about to face a running back as dangerous as Frank Gore. You never want a skilled back going north and south – you want him running sideways.
Most of what Williams said in his speech can be chalked up to motivational tactics. That includes “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.” Had Williams said, “We’ve got to do everything in the world to take Frank Gore out of this game,” then very few people would have batted an eye.
Let’s not lose focus of the real issue, which is Williams providing his players with monetary motivation to specifically target an opponent’s head, knee or name-your-extremity-here. Because there’s just no room in the game for something like that. Football players are already paid enough money to run, pass, tackle and yes, inflict pain without having a coach (or Jonathan Vilma in the specific case of the Saints) slap thousands of dollars onto a table and say, “This goes to the first guy who brings me back Brett Favre’s detached ankle.”
Now, I’m not naïve to think that players don’t test their opponents’ toughness to see whether or not they want to play that day. That happens whether a coach is paying them or not. Every player gets a scouting report on his opponent and in that scouting report he knows whether or not the guy just had his knee scoped. To get worked up over Williams filling his players in on certain opponents’ injuries is fruitless. The Saints’ players were already aware that Kyle Williams had a concussion just a few weeks prior, and that Michael Crabtree’s knee wasn’t at full strength. In fact, anyone with working internet had that information.
So my problem isn’t so much with Williams’ choice of words but with his actual bounty system. It was completely unnecessary for Williams to provide cash as motivation for his players to take someone out. That adds nothing to the game. That’s not football. That’s not playing for the love of the sport or in the spirit of competition. That’s just inhumane.
Thus, it’s not Williams’ words that are so much the problem, but the manner in which he tried to execute them.