Daniel Snyder has yet to be asked about Gregg Williams and the bounty for hits scandal that is rocking the New Orleans Saints. Comments by Redskins alumni about a bonus system in place during
Williams’ time in Washington had led the NFL to cast an eye on the Redskins as well as the Saints.
Snyder bypassed Williams as Joe Gibbs successor in 2008, citing the “disrespect” shown by Williams towards Gibbs in the “missing man” formation in the December 2007 Buffalo Bills game. Williams conspired with his defense to field 10 men on one play in memory of the late Sean Taylor. The missing man was Taylor’s safety spot.
Buffalo’s Fred Jackson gained 22 yards on the formation, his first big NFL play. Gibbs said then he had no idea what Williams and the defense were up to, just as he said recently that he had no idea of the bonus system Williams had in place with the Redskins.
Snyder cited that as one of the reasons for not promoting Williams to head coach after Gibbs’ abrupt departure. The other was Williams’ plan to keep Al Saunders as offensive coordinator. He was unaware that Snyder already made up his mind to dump Saunders and replace him with Jim Zorn.
That sounded hokey to fans (like me). Subsequent events cast everything in a new light.
I am still convinced that Williams and Saunders would have achieved more from the 2008 Redskins than Jim Zorn did. But, trust between owner and his senior leadership team is essential for building a winner. Credible sources at the time reported that Williams and Vinny Cerrato did not get along. Cerrato was Snyder’s guy. Neither Snyder nor Cerrato would have been hands-off (as they should have been) with Williams. It was a recipe for disaster.
Maybe, just maybe, Snyder was on to something.
Gregg Williams’ greatest hits
My old college coach, Duffy Daugherty (No, I didn’t play. I was in the stands.), said, “Football is not a contact sport. Dancing is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport.”
Jack “the Assassin” Tatum said, “I like to think that my best hits border on felonious assault.” Tatum’s most famous hit was delivered to Darryl Stingley in a preseason game. Stingley was paralyzed for life as a result.
As long ago as the 1960s, NFL Films touted “Get the Quarterback. Get the man.” I can still hear John Facenda’s voice-over in that famous film segment.
As Redskins fans, we celebrate Dexter Manley’s big hit on Danny White and LaVar Arrington’s big hit that hastened the end of Troy Aikman’s career.
The Redskins knocked Rex Grossman out of the game when the Chicago Bears visited FedEx Field in December 2007, the week after the missing man game. Who was paid for that one?
The Washington game was Grossman’s last as a NFL starter until 2010…when he started for the Redskins.
In retrospect, Tony Dungy suspects that Williams’ Redskins defense might have started Peyton Manning on his path to neck injury in an October 2006 game. That’s not without dispute. Manning started 74 regular season games since then.
Now, my Twitter friend @BurgundyBlog points out that the Redskins might sign Manning whose neck problem might have been caused by Williams’ Redskins “D.”
I believe in Karma now that I think about Grossman and Manning.
Cornelius Griffin knocked Shaun Alexander out of the game in Washington’s playoff game with the Seattle Seahawks following the 2005 season. The Redskins lost that game because they could not knock Matt Hasselbeck out.
Grossman and Alexander later played for the Redskins. Manning is rumored to be a person of interest to Washington.
Somewhere between the Redskins and the Saints, Williams’ system morphed from a bonus for hits to bounty on specific targets. At best, Williams found that system in place in New Orleans and did little to stop it. At worst, he managed the affair knowing the damage it would do to his team, not to mention opposing players, if the story ever got out.
That’s anathema to any owner. They rely on coaches to draw the line in a dangerous game.