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Williams to '09 Saints: 'Knock 'em the (expletive) out!'

The story behind Gregg Williams' "bounty" program in New Orleans might have started with a comment the fiery defensive coordinator reportedly made in his first meeting with Saints players.

"Knock 'em the (expletive) out!" Williams said in spring of 2009, according to The Times-Picayune.

The message resonated with the Saints, who went on to win the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history that season. On their road through the playoffs, they roughed up future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in back-to-back weeks.

In retrospect, it seems like more than a coincidence.

The Saints' brash and physical style earned their defense a reputation for being "dirty" in some circles. When asked about that stigma back in December, linebacker Jonathan Vilma gave a response that was telling of the environment Williams fostered.

"I'd rather be known as a (dirty defense) than a finesse defense," Vilma said, according to Yahoo! Sports.

When asked during the '09 season what Williams had brought to the Saints, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis was concise.

"Attitude. Attitude. Attitude," he said, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Likely facing a significant fine and suspension, Williams' coaching career suddenly is at a crossroads. Despite that, the now-Rams defensive coordinator remains revered and defended by many of the players he coached.

"I wanted to be That Guy for him, playing the game with an attitude opposing players absolutely feared. If that meant playing through the whistle or going low on a tackle, I did it," former Redskins safety Matt Bowen wrote Friday for the Chicago Tribune. "I don't regret any part of it. I can't."

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