New evidence alleges that the New Orleans Saints had a bounty on the head of 49ers' quarterback Alex Smith ahead of the two teams meeting in the playoffs.
The San Francisco 49ers knew in their first preseason game that the New Orleans Saints defense plays a little differently.
In the first game after the NFL lockout, Alex Smith and Colin Capernick were blitzed mercilessly by the Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Fast forward several months and Williams and New Orleans' head coach Sean Payton were both suspended for allegedly operating and knowing about a bounty system, where defensive players were encouraged and paid for injuring opposing players.
Now on the day Payton is set to meet with the NFL to appeal his season-long suspension, Yahoo and Bay Area-based NFL columnist Michael Silver unearthed audio of Williams addressing his team in a Bay Area hotel the night before playing the 49ers in a playoff game.
In the 12-minute audio recorded by documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, Williams made several references to injuring specific 49ers' players, including Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams and Vernon Davis.
Williams allegedly offers to pay his players for specifically injuring the 49ers' starting quarterback.
"At one point Williams says, ‘We hit [expletive] Smith right there’ – then he points under his chin [and continues] – ‘remember me.’ Then he rubs his thumb against his index and middle fingers – the cash sign – and says, ‘I got the first one. I got the first one. Go get it. Go lay that [expletive] out,'" Pamphilon told Silver.
Williams also specifically mentions taking out the ankles of Davis, blowing out the knee of Crabtree and trying to see if Williams, who had sustained a concussion during the season, was still suffering from the affects.
"We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake-ass prima donna or he wants to be a tough guy," Williams can be heard saying on the audio, which Pamphilon posted on his website Thursday. "We need to find that out, and he becomes human when you [expletive] take out that outside ACL."
Williams and the Saints had reportedly been warned by the NFL to stop any system of rewarding players for injuring their opponents before the playoffs started.
But they reportedly did not take the warning seriously.
Pamphilon told Silver he released the audio because while he was recording the speech for a documentary he is putting together featuring former Saints special teams star Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS, he back uncomfortable with Williams' speech.
He specifically became uncomfortable after he heard a direct reference to Williams' history of concussions.
"When [Gregg Williams] was talking about the Gore stuff and saying ‘cut off the head,’ I was thinking, ‘That’s a metaphor,'" Pamphilon said. "The thing that really got me was when he said the thing about No. 10 and concussions. I thought, ‘Did he just say that?’ That was the red flag for me. And then the comments by the Giants made it hit home even harder."
The filmmaker points out that Payton and Saints' general manager Mickey Loomis were not in the room when the speech was delivered.
The full audio can be heard below. Warning: The video contains coarse language.