(CBS/AP) The audio is explicit and explosive. Former Saints defensive coordinator and alleged bounty program mastermind Gregg Williams can be heard imploring his players to injure certain 49er players before an NFC playoff game in January. Among the targets: Frank Gore's head, Vernon Davis's ankle and Michael Crabtree's already-damaged knee ligament.
But perhaps the most shocking snippet is when the coach urges defenders "to (expletive) put a lick" on receiver Kyle Williams, a player who was recovering from an earlier concussion.
Kyle Williams' father, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, said his son "has definite feelings on the subject but has chosen to remain committed to providing all his answers to any questions on the field next season." But Kenny Williams had his own thoughts on the recording.
"Personally, suspension or not, it's probably best I'm never in a room with Gregg Williams and wonder if such an order crosses the line of the aggressive, competitive spirit we all know and love about the sport; and leans closer to a criminal act and therefore a litigious matter," Kenny Williams said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press.
Gregg Williams, who is suspended indefinitely for his admitted role overseeing a bounty system that offered Saints defenders payment for painful hits, did not respond to a phone message and email left with his foundation in Missouri on Thursday.
Williams left New Orleans after last season his third with the Saints and was hired as defensive coordinator by the St. Louis Rams.
The NFL has said Williams' bounty system offered off-the-books cash payments of $1,000 or more for hits that either knocked targeted opponents out of games or left them needing help off the field. The Saints have been punished heavily for allowing such a program to continue for three seasons, from 2009 when they Super Bowl through 2011.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, while handing down additional suspensions of eight games to general manager Mickey Loomis and six games to assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who also coaches linebackers. The Saints, meanwhile, were fined $500,000 and docked second-round draft picks this year and next.
The recording was released hours before head coach Payton, Loomis and Vitt went to NFL headquarters in New York for an appeal hearing regarding their unprecedented punishments.
After Vitt's appeal was heard, his lawyer, David Cornwell, was asked about the audio tape. Cornwell said Payton viewed Williams' comments as "a rogue coach about to get fired."
"He was fired two days later," said Cornwell, who also serves as executive director of the NFL Coaches Association. "He was on the way out."
However, when Williams left New Orleans for the Rams in January, nobody with the Saints characterized it as a firing. At the time, Payton said it was apparent shortly before the season ended that Williams, with his contract expiring, was likely going to join new St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, an old friend. The Saints and Williams never discussed an extension, Payton said then.