Since his two crucial mistakes in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, the 49ers’ Kyle Williams has stood up, taken the heat and answered all questions. He also may have taken some extra hits from the New York Giants.
Since the game some of the Giants players have hinted that Williams may have been a bit dazed – and that they went our of their way to target him because of his history of concussions. Williams, a wide receiver, was filling in as a punt and kick returner for the injured Ted Ginn, Jr.
Jacquian Williams, who stripped the ball from Williams in overtime, told New York Magazine, “We knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game.”
The Giants’ Devin Thomas, who recovered the ball after both of Kyle Williams’ mistakes, told the Star-Ledger newspaper that his team was aware of the 49ers receiver’s medical history.
“He’s had a lot of concussions,” Thomas said. “We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ … (teammate Tyler) Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”
A Sports Illustrated story also mentioned that Kyle Williams had a couple of other near-disaster moments in the game, fumbling on an early reverse (he recovered it) and also “making a strange, sideways diving catch on another punt that could have been disaster.”
Was Williams dazed? Did the Giants go after him early in the game? And, if so, will the NFL look into the matter? While going after an injured player has long been common practice in the NFL, going after an opponent who’s susceptible to concussions may be another matter, considering the league’s recent focus on protecting players from brain injuries.
If Williams believes the Giants targeted him, he hasn’t acknowledged it.
Williams, over and over, has simply acknowledged he made mistakes, thanked his teammates and the fans who’ve supported him and accepted the burden of his errors. He said the death threats have been “shocking,” and it’s hard for him to fathom how some fans have crossed the “line” that exists between athletes and fans.
Though he’s been the target of death threats on Twitter and the Internet since his overtime fumble and his muff on a punt helped the New York Giants to a 20-17 victory over the Niners, Williams hasn’t made any excuses for his mistakes.
“Things happen in the game of football and you’ve got to bounce back from it,” he said in an ESPN Radio interview Monday night. “You’ve got to realize you’ve made a mistake and own up to it.”
Williams also said it made no difference that, late in the game, he was playing with a shoulder injury suffered earlier.
“That’s not the reason I fumbled by any means,” he said in the interview.
Among the comments on Twitter to Williams was “you should jump off the Golden Gate Bridge for that one” and “HOPE U RUN n2 A BULLET DA WAY U RAN INTO DAT BALL.”
Niners linebacker Patrick Willis Monday stood up for his teammate.
“Nobody feels worse than he does,” Willis told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “Some of the stuff out there that I’ve seen, man, I was just like, ‘They’re saying that because they’re hurting.’ But we live this game, we breathe this game, we sleep this game. If they feel that way, you can only imagine how bad he feels. You never want anyone to go through anything like that.”