Sources: Gregg Williams called to N.Y.
Former Saints and current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been called to New York to meet with NFL security officials Jeff Miller and Joe Hummel on Monday for another round of dialogue pertaining to alleged violations of the league's bounty rules, according to sources.
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ESPN NFL analyst Darren Woodson explains why he thinks the motivation for the Saints' illegal bounty system is difficult to understand if you're not part of the football culture. Woodson says New Orleans' punishment probably won't curtail players from participating in the future.
It is likely NFL executive vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash will also be involved in the Monday discussions, a source said.
There is no set time for Williams and commissioner Roger Goodell to meet, though it is possible the two could talk while Williams is in New York, sources said.
The NFL on Friday said an investigation by its security department found that Williams and several Saints players employed an illegal bounty system, financially rewarding defensive players for big plays, including knocking opponents out of games during the 2009-11 seasons.
The NFL said between 22 and 27 Saints defensive players were involved in the team's bounty program and that it was administered by Williams, with the knowledge of coach Sean Payton. In some cases, the amounts pledged were both significant and directed against a specific opposing player, including former quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, according to the league's investigation.
Favre told SI.com in a story posted Monday that he sensed something was amiss in the 2009 NFC Championship Game when his Vikings played the Saints.
"I'm not going to make a big deal about it. In all honesty, there's a bounty of some kind on you on every play. Now, in that game there were some plays that, I don't want to say were odd, but I'd throw the ball and whack, on every play. Hand it off, whack. Over and over. Some were so blatant. I hand the ball to Percy Harvin early and got drilled right in the chin. They flagged that one at least," he told SI.com.
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"I've always been friends with Darren Sharper, and he came in a couple times and popped me hard. I remember saying, 'What THE hell you doing, Sharp?' I felt there should have been more calls against the Saints. I thought some of their guys should have been fined more.''
Former Saints defensive end Alex Brown and Sharper defended their former defensive coordinator in separate radio interviews Monday.
Brown, in an interview with "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 in Chicago, said knocking players out of games doesn't mean illegal tactics were used.
"You can knock a guy out of the game and do it legally. Just because you knock a guy out of the game doesn't mean it's an illegal thing. Just because a guy gets hurt that doesn't mean it's illegal. It is football," Brown said.
Sharper, in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, said characterizations "that we were trying to maim guys or try to cart a guy off is just totally ridiculous."
He also said Payton had no knowledge of the incentive program.
"I don't think Coach Payton had anything or didn't know anything about that. Coach Payton didn't have any idea what we were doing," Sharper said.
After details of the NFL's probe were released, five former Redskins, including defensive end Phillip Daniels, and a former coach told The Washington Post that Williams had a similar system with Washington.
The specific nature of Williams' visit Monday is unknown, though The Post reported Sunday that the NFL will investigate claims that the Washington Redskins had a bounty program when Williams was the team's defensive coordinator.
Fujita is a member of the NFLPA's executive committee.
Current and former players with the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers franchise, some of whom played under Williams, told The Tennessean of Nashville that paid inventives were common, but deliberate injuries were not.
"That stuff has been going on since Buddy Ryan, and long before that," former Oilers linebacker Al Smith, who was coached by both men, told the newspaper.
"Buddy used to put it simple: If you take the other team's best player out, your chance of winning increases dramatically," said Smith, according to the report. "Gregg felt the same way, but that's the theme across the league. It was never 'Go blow this guy's knee out and you'll get paid.' It was just football. It was a defensive mentality thing."
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But retired safety Blaine Bishop, who played for the franchise from 1993 through 2001, told The Tennessean that Williams "never had any bounties. ... He just wanted you to play hard."
League spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press on Sunday the league will be "addressing the issues raised as part of our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of the game."
Aiello said Sunday that the league would not comment on the reports of other teams' bounty systems. He added that the NFL will look at "any relevant info regarding rules being broken," saying that is "standard procedure."
Williams apologized for the Saints' program in a statement released Friday.
"It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it," Williams said. "Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry."
Miller is the league's vice president and chief of security and Hummel is the league's director of investigative services.
The two men were in charge of the probe that resulted in Friday's findings.
A league spokesman had no comment on the matter.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN. Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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