The NFL revealed Friday that ex-New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and 22-27 Saints defenders created and maintained a "pay for performance" program that included "bounty" payments administered by Williams, and now it appears that the illegal system was not the first for Williams in his NFL coaching career.
Five players and one Washington former assistant confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday that Williams operated a similar program when he was defensive coordinator of the Redskins from 2004 to '07.
Though the report does not cite a specific time period for Williams' "pay for performance" program in Washington, it paints an unflattering portrait of the current St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator, one in which three players said he paid out thousands of dollars to his players for hits such as "kill shots." One player specifically described Williams, as a "coach who just took it a little too far."
"You got compensated more for a kill shot than you did other hits,â one former player told The Post on condition of anonymity.
Players said that payment ranged anywhere from "hundreds to thousands of dollars" with a max payment believed to be around $8,000. In its report released Friday, the NFL said that Saints players received $1,500 for a âknockoutâ hit and $1,000 for a âcart-offâ hit with payouts doubling or tripling during the team's three playoff appearances.
"I never took it for anything (but) just incentive to make good, hard plays," a current NFL player, who also requested to remain anonymous, said in the Post's report. "But Iâm pretty sure it did entice some guys to do more to a player than normal when it came to taking them out. I mean, thatâs cash. Letâs just be honest about it.
âIf you took the star player out, heâd hook you up a little bit.â
"Just let me say this: Iâm not aware of anything like this when I was coaching there,â Gibbs told The Post. âI would never ask a player to hurt another player. Never.â
Phillip Daniels, a former defensive lineman under Williams and now the Redskins' director of player development, spoke to the Post on the record and defended his former coach.
"I think it is wrong the way theyâre trying to paint (Williams)," Daniels added. "He never told us to go out there and break a guy's neck or break a guy's leg. It was all in the context of a good, hard football."
Williams released a statement following the league's announcement of the Saints' "bounty" program.
"I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, (Saints owner Tom) Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the 'pay for performance' program while I was with the Saints," Williams said in a statement released by the Rams. "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again."
The Redskins declined to comment to the Post for its story.