With St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams meeting with the NFL on Monday about his role in a pay-for-performance "bounty" program with multiple teams, one of his former players with the Washington Redskins took to the airwaves to defend his old coach.
In Washington, players rewarded each other for big plays with cash payments without Williams' involvement, former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot said. He also refuted that the payments were ever part of a system.
"This was a thing that I think started in training camp as players," Smoot told WJFK-FM in Washington, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "It started out with who could get the most interceptions, who could get the biggest hit, or who could get the sacks and we took it into games. Gregg never said 'take out this player or take out this player' but I'm sorry back when I played football we actually used to hit people. It was legal to go out and hit people."
Smoot, who played with the Redskins under Williams in 2004 and again in 2007, said players put in money to pots for "big, splash plays" but not injuring others.
"It was more or less we started a pot as a defensive backfield of who could get the most forced fumbles, who could get the most interceptions," Smoot said. "It was never a bounty. It was more or less a pot that all of us players put in. Gregg never put in a dime, Gregg never came in and said do this, do this, or do that, we did that ourselves as a way to kind of pump each other up to go make more plays."
Williams developed a reputation for being an intense, aggressive coach as a defensive coordinator for the Redskins, Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints, as well as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Williams' personality has caused some outsiders to misinterpret his coaching style, Smoot said.
“Listen if Gregg ever says ‘let’s make sure we have a remember me hit,’ it was a figure of speech. It was not malicious to take somebody out of the game. Coaching is 50 percent more in the game and 50 percent being a psychologist and knowing how to play mind games and getting your players to come up and play football. That’s something Greg is great at doing. I think sometimes people take sentences out of context.”