Audiotapegate? Team meetinggate? Speechgate? What should we go with today? This audio tape is such garbage. It has produced the best faux outrage of any development in the bounty saga, and that’s saying a hell of a lot. When a guy named “QBKilla” on twitter started hollering about the most “egregious thing in the history of the game,” the hyperbolemeter quit working. “<<Error: hyperbole unmeasurable>>” The media are piling on, again, and boy, isn’t the timing perfect. Shut up. Everyone just stop it. Stop pretending every new development is shocking. The only thing shocking about the Gregg Williams audio was just how bad Gregg Williams was at pregame speeches. Jesus. No wonder our defense sucked. “Uninspiring” is an understatement.
Realize something: I’m not saying that I like what Gregg Williams says in the video. That needs to be made clear. If you can’t win a game without targeting another players freakin’ ACLs, you probably aren’t doing your job very well (and we all know the quality of Williams’s work over the last two years). Sure, it happens a lot. The Giants targeted concussions specifically within a week of this speech, it was reported heavily, and nothing happened. Bounties have existed for years; just turn on NFL network for a few minutes and I’m sure you’ll see a pretty lame Top Ten countdown glorifying them in some way between ridiculously-long commercial breaks. That said, no amount of history or the existence of any culture excuses Williams’s speech. He was out of control, a lunatic – and I’m glad he is no longer in New Orleans. But he’s not the biggest piece of trash we’ve heard from in the last 24 hours. We’ll get to that soon.
For the record, I don’t buy that the players were good with this. Not for a second. He was the coach, the boss, they couldn’t just jump up and say “Gregg, that’s not cool! These guys are our brothers in arms, we might be teammates next year, we’re not gonna hit his ACL!” I would love to hear what players said about Williams when he wasn’t within earshot. There is nothing you can do to convince me that they said to one another “man, that Gregg, he’s a genius. Don’t forget to take out that ACL! I got a hundred bucks for whoever cripples him for life!” Come on. Who believes that’s how it goes down? Raise your hands. You’re both idiots. Shut up.
The extent to which fans seem to be going in order to excuse Williams is equally comical. The hyperbole is just fantastic. “We designed plays to take out specific players when I played pee-wee!” Okay, let’s accept for a second that you’re telling the truth. What a fantastic argument that it needs to be wiped out at the NFL level. I don’t have any kids (yet), but if I have a son one day I hope he likes football as much as I do. If he wants to play (and it will be up to him), I better never hear a coach encourage him to hurt another player. It’s one thing at the NFL level, where folks are being paid millions of dollars. But if you think that watching 10-year-olds dive at each others’ knees is good entertainment, you belong in jail.
It’s just that kind of trickle-down effect that forces the league to draw a line in the sand between “hitting hard” and “encouraging injury”. Sure, it’s a fuzzy line, but it can only be defined by intent, and that’s where the league is stuck. I understand that, and – for the most part – I think they got it right in principle.
What I don’t agree with, and what pisses me off, is just the select enforcement of the policy. It’s a hypocritical move to protect legal liability, not an effort to change the culture of the game. You want to change the culture? Come down on everyone who utters a word of targeting the head of a player who has suffered concussions. Say something in response to dozens of players screaming in broken-English twitterism that this happens in every locker room.
You want to address the culture? Then address the damn culture! Don’t address the actions of one team. And don’t give us this crap about Payton being punished for the cover-up, for lies. You can’t attack the culture of injuring players purposely and then punish the people responsible for only the lies. It’s one or the other. What are you trying to prevent? If lies are the problem that makes the Saints different from all the others, why is Gregg Williams’s video so damning? He didn’t lie about anything in the video – you just told me that the Saints are receiving a bigger penalty for lying.
The way this Who Dat sees it, the audio proves only one thing: how absolutely out-of-control and insane the guy was. I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that it could be used as proof that Sean Payton had unwillingly lost control of his employee, that he was a “rogue coach” as the attorneys are telling it. What I have no problem saying is that it damn sure doesn’t make Payton’s case worse, or damage the appeal. It contained no new information, only put what we already knew in a nasty light, with perfect timing from Pamphilon to get maximum press and exposure in the process.
It’s Pamphilon who manages to come off as the sleaziest of the bunch. His timed release, not asking permission from Gleason (who was the only reason he even got the access he did), his indignant nonsense about wanting to protect the little children – every bit of it comes off as insincere. If he wanted to bring this information to light because his conscience was nagging him, he could have done it by bringing it to league officials, or by releasing it on a different date. Giving it up to some hack at a network on the morning of Payton’s appeal, after writing a lengthy diatribe the night before about morality and gamesmanship, reeked of attention-seeking and capitalizing on both Gleason’s sickness and trust and profiting from causing damage to others. He is no better than Williams, or Payton, or indeed, Goodell, in all this mess. In my mind, his hands are as dirty as anybody’s.
I named this blog the “Angry Who Dat” because I was mad about the scapegoating and the legal ass-covering maneuvers and Williams’s screwing us over in the first place, on the field and off of it. I was mad about the media turning on the franchise in a mad explosion of mass-market Schadenfreude, not because I care what the media says, but because I hate the hypocrisy of using the New Orleans story as a feel-good click-producer for a few years when it was convenient, and then demonifying the whole organization to produce clicks when that method worked better. It’s disgusting, it’s pandering, and it’s unprofessional.
But now we have these two new stories developing in the last day. That sleazy defensive coordinator was far more cowardly and disgusting and shameless than we ever knew before in his urging of players to take out the other guy’s friggin’ knees, for goodness sake. I despise the guy more and more with every piece of information that comes to light. It provides a ridiculous spin and gives an overzealous commissioner more ammunition to come after Payton, and that pisses me off more than does the overzealous, self-righteous, unsincere commissioner who couldn’t give less of a crap about player safety in the first place.
The second story from tomorrow (and continuing in to this morning) blows every one of the above out of the water on the disgustoscale. A guy comes into an organization on behalf of a man who gave his heart and soul to the team, who is suffering from a crippling, fatal disease, and wants to tell his story on film so that his kid can one day understand where he was coming from. This filmmaker is representing a first-class organization founded by Gleason to help others with his disease who aren’t in the position he is in, and it’s a foundation that will continue to do good long after he is gone. The filmmaker is given unfettered access at an almost-unprecedented level to team meetings and players and coaches. That filmmaker holds on to tape for months, and when the time is right, when all the media attention across the league is on the Saints and Payton and Gregg Williams, there is an opportunity for media coverage that could have been used for good, to shine a light on some good part of all this, to raise money for the foundation, somehow. Gleason’s a creative guy, one call from Pamphilon and he probably could have come up with something.
Instead, Pamphilon chose that moment to make an attention-grab for his company. He didn’t reach out to Gleason. He didn’t call the league. He called the media, and worked with their scummy asses to make the most disgusting move in this entire situation.
So congratulations, dirtbag. In a situation where seemingly everyone is trying to out-scum each other, you won in a landslide.
Update: Gleason’s official statement.
“A multitude of feelings have passed through me. I feel deflated and disappointed. I feel frustrated and distracted. Nevertheless, these feelings will pass, and I will continue steadfast in my mission.”