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Report: Williams wanted big hits on specific 49ers
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A newly released recording purports to capture former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams telling players to "put a lick" on San Francisco's Kyle Williams to see if the receiver still had lingering effects from an earlier concussion.
Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who had access to Saints meetings for a documentary on football, has posted the audio on his web site. Pamphilon initially shared the content with Yahoo Sports, telling the website that while he was not bothered by much of Williams' profanity-laced speech, he was troubled by comments about the previously concussed player.
"I thought, `Did he just say that?'" Pamphilon said in an article posted Thursday. "That was the red flag for me."
Williams, who is suspended indefinitely for his admitted role overseeing a bounty system that offered Saints defenders cash for big hits, did not immediately respond to a phone message and email left with his foundation in Missouri on Thursday.
Williams left New Orleans after the season and was hired as defensive coordinator by the St. Louis Rams.
Pamphilon made the recording of Williams' speech during a meeting before the Saints lost to the 49ers in a divisional playoff game in January.
When the New York Giants defeated the 49ers a week later in the NFC title game, several Giants players made similar comments about wanting to get hits on Kyle Williams, who fumbled twice in the game, because they knew he had previous concussions.
In Pamphilon's recording, Williams also tells his players to set their sights on running back Frank Gore, quarterback Alex Smith and receiver Michael Crabtree.
"We need to decide on how many times we can beat Frank Gore's head," he says.
Williams also implores his charges to "lay out" Smith and later adds, "We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a (expletive) prima donna or he wants to be a tough guy. He becomes human when we ... take out that outside ACL."
Pamphilon also described Williams pointing to his chin when he said, "We hit (expletive) Smith right there."
Pamphilon said Williams then rubbed his fingers together as one might do when doling out cash, saying, "I got the first one," which Pamphilon understood to mean the defensive coordinator had placed a cash bounty on Smith.
The NFL has said Williams' bounty system offered off-the-books cash payments of $1,000 or more for hits that either knocked targeted opponents out of games or left them needing help off the field, and the Saints have been punished heavily for allowing such a program to endure for three seasons.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, while handing down additional suspensions of eight games to general manager Mickey Loomis and six games to assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who also coaches linebackers. The Saints, meanwhile, were fined $500,000 and docked second-round draft picks this year and next.
The Williams recording was released on the same day that the Payton, Loomis and Vitt were in New York for an appeal hearing regarding their unprecedented punishments.
After Vitt's appeal was heard, his lawyer, David Cornwell, was asked about the audio tape. Cornwell said Payton viewed Williams' comments as "a rogue coach about to get fired."
"He was fired two days later," said Cornwell, who also serves as executive director of the NFL Coaches Association. "He was on the way out."
But when Williams left New Orleans for the Rams in January, nobody with the Saints characterized it as a firing. At the time, Payton said it was apparent shortly before the season ended that Williams, with his contract expiring, was likely going to join new St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, an old friend. The Saints and Williams never discussed an extension, Payton said then.
The league informed the Saints at the start of the playoffs that it was reopening its bounty investigation. Cornwell said Loomis and Payton then told Williams, "There's no place for this in this organization or this league."
The NFL, however, in its statement last month announcing the penalties for team officials, said the GM and coach made only "cursory inquiries" into the possible presence of a bounty program.
Pamphilon said Payton and Loomis were not in the room when the recording of Williams was made.
Williams can be heard using metaphors he has often used throughout his coaching career, such as, "kill the head and the body will die." That was Williams' way of urging players to disrupt opposing teams' star players with intimidating and nasty physical play. Another of Williams' mantras was that "respect comes from fear," which he repeats in the recording.
"We've got to do everything we can in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore's head," Williams says. "We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways."
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York contributed to this report.
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