Every NFL football fan has the right to call in sick on Good Friday.
Blame it on the comments then New Orleans Saints – and likely soon-to-be former St. Louis Rams – defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told his team the night before the Saints played the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game that become public on ugly Thursday.
By now, almost everyone with even a passing interest in the NFL knows about Williams’ comments about “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head” and that Michael Crabtree becomes human when we ______ take out that outside ACL,” among other things involving Alex Smith, Vernon Davis and Kyle Williams.
That Gregg Williams delivered this speech in front of someone recording him for a documentary when the Saints knew that the NFL had reopened its investigation of whether the team had a bounty system was shocking.
Either Williams is the most arrogant man in the world, the dumbest man in the world or a man who lived in such a violent culture that he didn’t even stop to think about how his words might be received outside the football arena.
That last notion is the scariest thought of all.
A lot of negative sentiment has been directed toward filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, the man who record Williams while creating a documentary on another subject – on Saints special teams player Steve Gleason, who is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease – for ESPN 30 for 30.
By way of explanation for making Williams’ speech public, Pamphilon released a statement saying “If this story hadn’t broken and been made public, I would not have shared this. I would not have compromised my personal relationships and risked damaging Steve Gleason’s relationship with the Saints. I would have crafted these words and sentiments for another forum, perhaps years down the road.”
Um … what?
What kind of world are we living in? Williams’ ignorance is unconscionable enough, but what about Mr. Pamphilon’s?
He waited more than two months to go public with what he had because he didn’t want to compromise personal relationships –that likely would have cost him a lot of money if he wasn’t allowed in anyone’s inner-circle to make his documentaries.
But if you hear someone is planning to rob a bank, don’t you get in trouble if the police find out you knew and didn’t say anything?
A bit of a stretch? OK, what if he had heard this before a high school football game? Everyone agrees he should say something, right?
What if this were before the college national championship game? Should he say something?
So the fact that these are paid football players makes it OK for the filmmaker to keep his mouth shut?
What if Pamphilon heard any man talk about hurting another man? He’d go to the police, wouldn’t he? Just because it’s in the sports arena, it’s OK to keep silent?
An ESPN.com article reported that Pamphilon told Yahoo! Sports, “The thing that really got me was when he said the thing about No. 10 (Kyle Williams) and concussions. I thought, ‘Did he just say that?’ That was the red flag for me.”
So only one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-eight hours later (some 82 days, but who’s counting?), Pamphilon acted swiftly.
One national radio talk show Thursday compared the NFL to gladiators during the Roman Empire. “Neanderthal” should come to mind more quickly.
Football still is a game, isn’t it? We’re not talking about anything but entertainment – reality TV. Yet, some coaches are protected like they are above the law – remember Jerry Sandusky, anybody? Pamphilon may have lost the ability to do his job if he’d turned in Williams sooner, but the audio came out anyway – only because the Saints bounty scandal became public.
At some point, somebody has to call out the behavior of any coach who shows such disregard for the well-being of others, no matter the consequences.
I used to argue with my wife about my 6-year-old son playing football someday. I tried to talk about teamwork, camaraderie, learning to work hard and getting exercise were great teaching tools.
My wife would remind me that about 15 years ago a father of a player from her high school alma mater had helped the player sharpen the buckles on his helmet before a game against the school’s arch-rival – my high school alma mater. After several players from my old high school suffered cuts, the local newspaper found out about it and reported it. It didn’t take 82 days for the story to come out.
She didn’t have to mention Gregg Williams. She didn’t have to mention Jerry Sandusky. I had no arguments left in favor of my son playing organized football.
Maybe if the NFL suspended operations for a year, this whole culture-change notion about hurting players might actually take effect.
The NFL won’t of course, leaving me with just one recourse.
I am calling in sick.