Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Bounty recording: Hurt the 49ers

NEW ORLEANS — On the same day the NFL heard the Saints' appeals in their hits-for-cash scandal, a recording of Gregg Williams emerged that purports to capture the disgraced defensive coordinator telling players to "put a lick" on 49ers receiver Kyle Williams to see if he had lingering effects from a concussion.

Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who had access to Saints meetings for a documentary featuring former Saints special teams player Steve Gleason and his battle with Lou Gehrig's disease, posted the audio on his website.

Williams, suspended for his admitted role overseeing a bounty system that offered Saints defenders payment for painful hits, did not respond to messages left with his foundation in Missouri seeking comment.

Williams left New Orleans after last season — his third with the Saints — and was hired as the Rams' defensive coordinator.

Pamphilon made the recording of Williams' speech during a meeting before the Saints lost to San Francisco in the division playoffs in January, the final game Williams coached.

When the Giants defeated the 49ers a week later in the NFC title game, several Giants 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 go after 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."

The NFL has said Williams' bounty system offered 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. The system continued for three seasons, from 2009 when the Saints won the Super Bowl through 2011.

"Since you were a baby you've understood never take out a man's knees and on this tape he's talking about taking out an ACL," Hall of Fame receiver and NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin said. "I almost threw up when I heard it. … If he is out of the league forever, it would be only the right thing to do."

Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season for the bounty system, while handing down additional suspensions of eight games to GM Mickey Loomis and six to linebackers coach Joe Vitt. The team was fined $500,000 and docked two draft picks.

The recording was released hours before Payton, Loomis and Vitt went to NFL offices in New York for an appeal hearing regarding their punishments.

After Vitt's appeal was heard, his lawyer, David Cornwell, was asked about the tape. Cornwell said Payton viewed Williams' comments as "a rogue coach about to get fired." But when Williams left New Orleans for the Rams in January, nobody with the Saints cited it as a firing.

Leak warning: Goodell has sent a memo to all 32 teams threatening "significant discipline" to anyone caught leaking confidential information to the public on draft prospects. The Associated Press obtained the memo that was sent Wednesday after reports that LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne allegedly scored poorly on the Wonderlic test. The exam is used by teams to try to gauge a prospect's intelligence, problem-solving ability and cognitive skills. Various mock drafts have the Bucs selecting Claiborne with the fifth overall pick. League rules prohibit disclosing the results, but scores have routinely been leaked for years.

BENGALS: Receiver Jerome Simpson was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years probation after a plea agreement on a drug-related charge in Covington, Ky. Simpson, now a free agent, pleaded guilty March 1 to the felony charge resulting from about 2 pounds of marijuana shipped to his home.

Colts: Free agent defensive tackle Brandon McKinney, previously with the Chargers and Ravens, signed.

Ravens: Cornerback Lardarius Webb agreed to a five-year extension reportedly worth $50 million with a $10 million signing bonus.

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