Former players sickened by NFL Saints' bounty scandal
An audio recording of Gregg Williams allegedly demanding his team to hurt other players -- and offering to pay them for it -- is at the center of the NFL's pay-to-injure scandal. / CBS
(CBS News) - The NFL's bounty scandal has become a hot topic in sports, especially after New Orleans Saints' assistant coach Gregg Williams was heard on tape apparently offering his team bonuses to injure opposing players.
Today, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian talked to former All-Pro quarterback Kurt Warner, one of the men who was targeted. Warner was not happy.
In the audio tape that's rocked the football world like a blindside hit, Williams appears to exhort his defense to inflict specific damage to several San Francisco 49ers stars like running back Frank Gore. "We need to decide how many times we can meet Frank Gore's head," Williams says.
"Little 32, we want to knock the (expletive) out of him. He has no idea what he's in for," Williams said about 49ers running back Kendall Hunter, who was Gore's backup.
Those words sent a chill down Warner's spine. He was one of the intended targets of the Saints' pay-to-injure "bounty" system devised and administered by Williams during the last three seasons.
"When you talk about the intention of players to get the big hit, to knock guys out, to take them off on a stretcher, to attack what may be a weakness or where they've been injured before, I think that is where this whole thing crosses a line," Warner told CBS News.
Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason endured his fair share of hard hits during a 14-year career. Today, he said there's a clear difference between profane, take-no-prisoners motivation and what Williams was preaching.
"I'm sick to my stomach actually. In the 14 years that I played, I'd never heard a coach speak the way that Gregg Williams spoke on that audio tape," he said to CBS News.
Longstanding NFL rules specifically state that "no bonus or award may directly or indirectly be offered (for) personal fouls or injuries inflicted on opposing players."
Last month, Williams was suspended indefinitely for violating that rule. The scandal was only made worse with the release of the edited audio in which Williams said what he wanted done to players like wide receiver Michael Crabtree and his knee ligament.
"He becomes human when you (expletive) take out that outside ACL," Williams is clearly heard saying.
Esiason points blame at the entire Saints organization.
"If the head coach is not saying anything and the GM is not saying anything and the other position coaches that are in that room aren't saying anything, then it must be okay," Esiason said.
In fact, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints' head coach Sean Payton for all of next season, general manager Micky Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. They have all appealed those penalties. A decision by Goodell is expected any day.
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