NFL bounty scandal: Filmmaker defends audio

Director Sean Pamphilon
Director Sean Pamphilon released the audio of Williams on his website. He's seen here during the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival at the Tribeca Cinemas on April 25, 2010, in New York City.
Rob Loud/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

(CBS News) Sean Pamphilon, the film maker behind the release of audio recordings that appear to confirm the NFL bounty scandal, released a statement late Thursday afternoon defending his decision to go public with the sound.

His statement said, in part, "Some will call me releasing this audio for fame or money grab...people of character and conscience will call it (what) it is; tru (sic)."

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The audio recording features former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the architect of the Saints pay-to-injure bounty system that implicated as many as 27 players paid as much at $1,500 for a "knockout" hit. The bounty scandal cost Williams his job.

In the recording, Williams appears to be talking about targeting specific body parts of several football players' bodies for injury.

The recording first surfaced Thursday on Pamphilon's website. The filmmaker followed the Saints last season as part of a football documentary featuring Saints former special teams ace Steve Gleason, who is now suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"Little 32, we want to knock the (expletive) out of him," Williams is heard saying in a profanity-laced speech to his defensive players the night before the Saints lost a playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers last January.

Among the body parts Williams appears to ask his players to target, is 49ers' running back Frank Gore's head. Williams can be heard saying, "We've got to make sure we do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore's head. We need to decide on how many times we can meet Frank Gore's head...."

Tight end Vernon Davis's ankle was also mentioned by Williams. He can be heard saying, "We need to decide how many times we can bull rush and we can (expletive) clip Vernon Davis's ankles over the pile..."

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree's already-damaged knee ligament was talked about, too: "He becomes human when you (expletive) take out that outside ACL."

And wide receiver Kyle Williams, recovering from multiple concussions, was also noted. "That little wide receiver number 10, about his concussion," Williams says."We need to (expletive) put a lick on him, right now."

Williams is a former head coach in Buffalo and feared defensive coordinator for teams in Washington and Tennessee, beloved by players for his fiery, take-no-prisoners attitude. He has since apologized for his role in the Saints bounty scheme, which ran the last three seasons.

He has had no comment on the tape, which sparked strong reaction around the league, including among some alleged targets.

Kurt Warner, former quarterback, now with the NFL Network, said, "When you start to talk about the intention of players, to get the big hit, to knock guys out, to take guys out on the stretcher, to attack what may be considered a weakness of a player or where they've been injured before, I think that's where this whole thing crosses a line."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and two other key members of the organization in New York Thursday to hear their appeal on suspensions for their part in "bounty" system. Payton received a one-year ban while Williams was suspended indefinitely by the league.

Williams' speech in the recordings came right before Williams' final game in the league and two weeks before the bounty scandal broke. CBS News spoke to the NFL and the league declined to comment on tape. Williams could not be reached for comment.

But is the practice of hitting players for rewards a wider problem in the NFL at large?

James Brown, of CBS Sports, tells "CBS This Morning" he's found no indication that it is.

"It will be a black eye for this week. It will be a black eye for much longer if it is determined and deemed to be widespread throughout the NFL," Brown said. "I have yet to find anybody who would say this is widespread. It's brazen. It's without regard for people's health, trying to end someone's career when you talk specifically about taking their ACL out, you're talking about someone who was concussed and continuing to bang the head in the pile after the tackle and the whistle is stopped. That kind of stuff certainly even catches those who play the game very hard and physically by surprise."

As for Williams' appeal to come back into the NFL, Brown said the recording leaves "little if any possibility" of that happening when his case is reviewed at the end of the season because of the "specificity and the vulgarity" of his taped speech.

"Locker room speeches are not the things of church sermons, that we understand," Brown said. "But when you talk about ending a guy's career, physically maiming and injuring him that way, that does cross the line."

There may also be the possibility of criminal charges or civil liability, Brown said.

"Kenny Williams, general manager of the Chicago White Sox, (commented) about his son who, of course, plays with the San Francisco 49ers, who was targeted, mentioning this is a litigious matter. I wouldn't be surprised if that's not forthcoming at all."