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Former Saint Steve Gleason, Who Witnessed Gregg Williams’ Infamous Speech, Thought He Went Too Far
Earlier this year, audio surfaced of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams giving a speech to his players before the Saints’ playoff game against the 49ers in January. And in that speech, Williams – suspended indefinitely and accused of being one of the ringleaders of the bounty scheme that got the Saints fined half a million dollars and resulted in yearlong suspensions for Jon Vilma and Sean Payton – sounded a little unhinged. He said things like “Kill the head and the body will die.” It looked like one more damning bit of evidence against Williams’ conduct.
But it wasn’t without controversy: the clip in question was posted by filmmaker Sean Pamphilon. The clip was legitimate: Pamphilon was present when Williams gave the address in question. But the reason he was there was that he was working on a documentary that highlights the life of former Saint Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS – and Gleason wasn’t happy that Pamphilon released the audio. However, while Gleason said he was “deflated and disappointed” at the release of the tape, he didn’t share his feelings on the audio contained therein. Recently, in an interview with HBO’s Real Sports, he did. And he didn’t let Williams off the hook:
“The real problem was no one seemed shocked. There was no discussion of, ‘Wow, did we just hear that?’ … When he specified the other players’ injuries, that to me was over the line.”
We’ll have to wait for the full interview to air (which it wil tomorrow) to get more context, but it’s worth noting Gleason isn’t the only former Saint to criticize Williams: linebacker Scott Fujita, who’s serving a suspension of his own at the beginning of this year on the back of the bounty allegations, said that while he likes Williams, that the coach also “said a lot of really vulgar, inappropriate, outlandish things.”
His and Gleason’s comments, of course, stop well short of saying there was ever any kind of bounty program in place – Fujita, in fact, steadfastly denies the NFL’s claims. But it does signal a willingness on players’ part to distance themselves with certain figures involved in the bounty scandal – which is probably a good idea. Again, great coach and/or motivator or not, Williams sounded like a crazy person. But it does make us wonder if, even if Saints players are one day fully cleared and a bounty program is determined never to have existed, Williams will still be a black sheep.
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