One pass defended.
One hit that hasn’t been forgotten.
That’s driving the unusual litigation, which targets the Redskins, Williams and ex-tight end Robert Royal, in the first time a player has sued over an injury he claims to have suffered because of Bountygate. That scandal, of course, accused multiple Saints players of paying cash for hits on opponents in a system purported to be created by Williams.
General accusations of similar systems during Williams‘ earlier stints with the Bills, Titans and Redskins followed. But absent from the NFL’s ham-handed investigation, overturned suspensions of four Saints players and the flood of lawsuits, including everyone from the NFLPA to Saints season-ticket holders, was a former player lawyering up and blaming an injury on Williams.
The coach, after all, was known for profanity-laced pregame speeches, one of which included the admonition to “kill the head and the body will die.” After a yearlong suspension by the NFL, Williams is back as an assistant with the Titans but remains, for better or worse, the face of a scandal that won’t die.
What better target could a lawyer want?
That’s not as simple, however, as the nefarious plots and bounty plans presented with little evidence in the lawsuit that was moved to federal court in Maryland last week.
Asked for comment Wednesday, Royal responded via Twitter: “Not at all. I’m enjoying my life. Same thing others should be doing.”
All this goes back to Dec. 5, 2004, when Royal lined up as a slot receiver in the third quarter at FedEx Field.
“Royal accelerated towards Plaintiff Green, intentionally lowered his helmet and dove into the defenseless linebacker’s knees at full speed,” the lawsuit said. “The hit was unusual, outrageous and an obvious cheap shot.”
Royal was flagged for an illegal crackback block on Green, who had been ejected the previous week for throwing a punch at Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. That punch isn’t mentioned in the lawsuit and is ironic, given the complaint’s charges include battery. After the Redskins game, Green told reporters Royal apologized through a teammate. Green didn’t accept.
“They knew what they were doing,” Green told the New York Post in 2004. “They wanted me off the field and they did it.”