Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews says that coaches frequently relay aggressive messages inside locker rooms to pump up their players before a game, but former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encouraging his players to injure their opponents before a playoff game was unacceptable.
"You obviously have your speeches around the league, especially from defensive coaches, position coaches, in which they want you to get after, get going, but I think that when you start to jeopardize peopleâs futures, their livelihood I think youâre taking it to a whole other level," Matthews said during a roundtable interview, which will air on "NFL Total Access" on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker were also a part of the discussion.
"Itâs unfortunate because I think at the end of the day weâre able to put it in perspective and weâre just happy we can walk off the field, wins and losses aside. I think the most important thing is understanding itâs just a game at the end of the day," Matthews said.
Ware agreed that heâd never heard a coach tell a player to injure a specific player but that teams talk about who is going to get the first interception, fumble recovery or the first knockdown.
"Not go after their head or ACL or bite them or whatever you want to do," Ware said. "Just being a defensive guy you just take it with a grain of salt and play the way you want to play. As a player, youâre not trying to go out and hurt somebody, youâre just trying to go out and make a statement and let them know where you stand."
Welker, however cringed when he heard Williams tell his players to target an opposing playerâs ACL.
"It was definitely shocking," Welker said.
Welker tore his ACL and medial collateral ligament in Week 17 of the 2009 season.
"I would never wish an ACL on my worst enemy," the wide receiver said. "Just going through that and everything you have to go through, itâs painful."