|In this photo from Oct. 22, 2006, Manning loses his helmet after getting hit in a game against the Redskins. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams apologized Friday evening for his part in the team's "pay for performance" bounty program that rewarded players for injuring opponents. In fact, one NFL source told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered up $10,000 to any teammate who knocked then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the game.
(Apparently, Williams had a similar program when he was with the Redskins; a former player told the Washington Post that compensation ranged from "hundreds to thousands of dollars" with the biggest payout thought to be $8,000.")
One story we should expect to hear more about: Peyton Manning. He missed the 2011 season with a chronic neck injury, and he's probably taken his last snap for the Colts. Back in September, Tony Dungy, Manning's former coach who now serves as an NFL analyst for NBC, traced Manning's neck issues to a 2006 game.
The opponent? The Redskins. And the defensive coordinator? Yep, Gregg Williams.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote about Dungy's remarks in his Week 1 Monday Morning Quarterback column:
Dungy had an excellent observation on our ... NFL special on NBC. He said Manning's neck history dates to Oct. 22, 2006, when his neck got wrenched and his helmet ripped off on a hit by two Washington defenders. We showed the highlight on our Saturday show, and Manning, after being hit and crumbling to the ground awkwardly, lay there for a second, and when he rose, he stretched his neck and shook his right arm for a second, as if trying to get the feeling back in it.Former Colts president Bill Polian told King that Manning was fine at the end of the 2010 season and had "no recurrence of the neck problems that caused his first surgery after the 2009 season."
"Earlier in the game,'' Dungy told me, "I'm outraged that there was a flag for roughing-the-passer on Dwight Freeney for just grazing the quarterback's helmet. So I'm yelling at the ref [Scott Green], 'Where's the flag! Where's the flag!' And I don't yell much, but I did then. So I didn't notice Peyton calling timeout and being shaken up. Peyton came to the sideline and said to [backup] Jim Sorgi, 'Jim, start warming up.' As the timeout went on, he said to us, 'I can stay in, but we need to run the ball here.' ''
In January 2010, a week before the Saints faced the Colts in the Super Bowl, Williams (by then New Orleans' defensive coordinator) was asked about some controversial hits on Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game.
“Here’s the deal," he said. "When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out. If it happens, it happens. And the only thing you’d like for me to say is that if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again.”
Williams may have been sincere when he apologized Friday, but the remarks above makes them seem less geniune. More than that, you might think that the only reason Williams is sorry is because he got caught.
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