- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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By now you've either heard, or heard about, the explosive speech former New Orleans Saints Gregg Williams gave before January's playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. In it, Williams encourages his players to injure specific 49ers opponents and reportedly made a hand signal that suggested he would reward the first injury with cash.
The release of the audio has spurred wide reaction, but to me the most disappointing one is the one that suggests it was typical in content and style to what NFL players regularly hear. If you read through ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck's Twitter timeline, you can see a pretty good discussion on that topic.
To me, that's an unfair over-generalization that glosses over the line Williams crossed. It's no different than saying every Democrat advocates for welfare and every Republican rails against science.
There are plenty of NFL coaches who do their jobs differently, and no less effectively, than the way you heard Gregg Williams do his. So I was glad to see at least one active player stand up for them Thursday morning via Twitter.
When asked by a follower if Packers coaches talk to players that way, Sitton replied: "hell no."
It's fair to point out that Packers players, much like their division opponents in Minnesota, have a significant and emotional tie-in to this story. The NFL's official report on the Saints' bounty program mentioned four targeted quarterbacks by name. One was the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and another was Brett Favre when he played for the Vikings.
I don't want to come off as a prude. I understand that football is controlled barbarianism and that it's common for coaches to encourage players to "knock the [expletive] out" of their opponents. But the Williams speech, especially the references to causing specific injuries to certain players, goes way beyond the line of acceptable violence in the NFL. This is not normal, it shouldn't be acceptable and I'm glad that Sitton, for one, was willing to say so.
*UPDATE: Sitton has added a few more thoughts in tweets directed at ESPNMilwaukee.com corporate cousin Jason Wilde. Tweeted Sitton:
"I want to be clear. Our sport is violent and you are supposed to hurt one another, but this guy took it over the top. trying to take someone out of a game or end a career is a chicken [expletive] move! we work our entire lives to make it to the NFL. And some guy wants to pay players to hurt people. NOT cool! next thing you know some [expletive] will be waiting for me by my car with a crowbar! That's some Tonya Harding [expletive]!"