|Tarkenton on Williams: he 'should never be able to be in the NFL again.' (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)|
On Monday, the league upheld suspensions for New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, assistant coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis for their involvement in the Saints bounty scandal.
Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who received the stiffest punishment -- an indefinite suspension -- didn't appeal commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling. He was subsequently cast as the "rogue coach" who acted alone (an argument further bolstered by the release of a damning audio recording last week from the Saints' January playoff loss to the 49ers), although the characterization had no affect on Goodell's ultimate decision.
Over the weekend, former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner tweeted that Williams shouldn't be banned for life, but deserves another chance. As it stands, Goodell will revisit Williams' status in a year.
Former Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe who is now an NFL analyst for CBS, feels similarly.
Meanwhile, one old-school player thinks Williams' coaching career should've ended in San Francisco three months ago.
"I was outraged by it," Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton told ESPN Radio recently (via SportsRadioInterviews.com). "The players I talked to from my generation are outraged about it. We didn't play with bounties. Dick Butkus didn't have bounties on anybody, or there wouldn't have been anybody to play because he would've killed them all. This is nonsense."
It's an interesting point; there weren't bounties 40 years ago but that may have been because the rules regarding player safety were much less stringent than they are now. Put differently: if Gregg Williams coached in the 1960s and '70s, would he have needed to impose bounties since offensive players weren't afforded many of the protections they enjoy today? Even with all the precautions, you could ask that question now -- did Williams need to impose bounties to be successful with the Titans, Redskins, Bills and Saints? And you'd reach the same conclusion: no. Which is why it's such a hotly debated issue.
Tarkenton continued: "Now I hear these ex-jocks, modern ex-jocks, back then 'ah, this is the way it is in football, this is just the way things are.' … The American people should be outraged. This is not the way it is. That's not what the foundation of football was about. Goodell has already come down hard on Payton and Loomis and Gregg. Gregg Williams should never be able to be in the NFL again. He has done this at Tennessee, he did it in Buffalo, he did it with the Washington Redskins, he's done it here.
"I got a YouTube video of when Peyton Manning's neck got hurt the first time because he had a bounty on him by Gregg Williams where someone hit him low and another guy hit him around the head and twisted his neck," Tarkenton said. "It was unbelievable. That's where it started."
We're not sure if Williams actually put a bounty on Manning during the 2006 game in question (you can see the YouTube here), but then-Colts coach Tony Dungy traces Manning's arm and neck injuries to that hit. Dungy also told Dan Patrick last month that “Just listening to their guys (former Redskins players) talk, it does sound like (there was a bounty on Manning). When you see Matt Bowen's comments … that ‘This is what we had done,' yeah, it makes you think that."
Bowen said that not only were bounties a league-wide problem, they worked:
"Bounties, cheap shots, whatever you want to call them, they are a part of this game. It is an ugly tradition that was exposed ... with Williams front and center from his time coaching the defense in New Orleans. But don't peg this on him alone. You will find it in plenty of NFL cities."
And that's what troubles Tarkenton.
"That would trickle throughout the league, Tarkenton said. "That would trickle down to college, down to high school football. The American public should be outraged at this, and I know Roger Goodell is outraged because if this spreads, this sport is dead."
Whatever fate awaits Williams, we think everyone received Goodell's message: any involvement with bounties won't be good for your career.
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