Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current New Orleans coach Sean Payton are likely to get punished for running an illegal “bounty pool” of up to $50,000 in which defensive players were paid for injuring opponents. Williams, the current defensive coordinator of the Rams, appears to be in the most hot water and these quotes from a Feb. 2010 SI profile won’t help matters: 

When he [Williams] met with rookie defenders in the spring for their first on-field session, his message was pointed and succinct: “Knock ‘em the f—- out.” He repeated himself when the veterans arrived and continued to repeat himself during the season.

In a radio interview 12 days before the Super Bowl, Williams made clear how important it would be for the Saints to go after quarterback Peyton Manning and to get to him as early in the play as possible. “When we do get to him,” he added, “we’re going to have to make sure he gets a couple ‘remember me’ shots…. When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out.”

The comment was widely viewed as being reckless and blasphemous. How dare anyone talk about pummeling Manning, the golden boy, the four-time league MVP who comes from the First Family of NFL Quarterbacks. And what kind of sense did it make to provide motivational material for Manning’s mental bulletin board, or to draw the attention of league officials who are maniacal about protecting The Chosen Ones, otherwise known as quarterbacks?

"I don’t know what I should’ve said," says Williams. "Maybe I should have blown him kisses or sent him a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card, but that would not have sent the right message to our defense."


Williams is meeting with NFL investigators Monday about the bounty program. (AP)
SI VAULT: Driven by ornery Williams, Saints D sent message to Colts (2.11.00)KING MMQB: Don’t underestimate Goodell’s toughness when punishing SaintsBANKS: Loomis, Payton most to blame in bounty sageMcCANN: The potential legal fallout of bounty system

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current New Orleans coach Sean Payton are likely to get punished for running an illegal “bounty pool” of up to $50,000 in which defensive players were paid for injuring opponents. Williams, the current defensive coordinator of the Rams, appears to be in the most hot water and these quotes from a Feb. 2010 SI profile won’t help matters: 

When he [Williams] met with rookie defenders in the spring for their first on-field session, his message was pointed and succinct: “Knock ‘em the f—- out.” He repeated himself when the veterans arrived and continued to repeat himself during the season.

In a radio interview 12 days before the Super Bowl, Williams made clear how important it would be for the Saints to go after quarterback Peyton Manning and to get to him as early in the play as possible. “When we do get to him,” he added, “we’re going to have to make sure he gets a couple ‘remember me’ shots…. When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out.”

The comment was widely viewed as being reckless and blasphemous. How dare anyone talk about pummeling Manning, the golden boy, the four-time league MVP who comes from the First Family of NFL Quarterbacks. And what kind of sense did it make to provide motivational material for Manning’s mental bulletin board, or to draw the attention of league officials who are maniacal about protecting The Chosen Ones, otherwise known as quarterbacks?

"I don’t know what I should’ve said," says Williams. "Maybe I should have blown him kisses or sent him a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card, but that would not have sent the right message to our defense."

Williams is meeting with NFL investigators Monday about the bounty program. (AP)

SI VAULT: Driven by ornery Williams, Saints D sent message to Colts (2.11.00)
KING MMQB: Don’t underestimate Goodell’s toughness when punishing Saints
BANKS: Loomis, Payton most to blame in bounty sage
McCANN: The potential legal fallout of bounty system

This week’s Sports Illustrated previews the NFL playoffs and features four different covers. The games kickoff on Saturday when Cincinnati visits Houston at 4:30 p.m. (Al Tielemans/SI - Packers; Damian Strohmeyer/SI - Patriots, Steelers; Tom DiPace/SI - Saints)

CLICK HERE TO BUY PACKERS COVER

CLICK HERE TO BUY PATRIOTS COVER

CLICK HERE TO BUY SAINTS COVER

CLICK HERE TO BUY STEELERS COVER

Drew Brees is sacked by Green Bay linebackers Clay Matthews (52) and Erik Walden during a Week 1 meeting between the Packers and Saints. Green Bay would go onto win, 42-34, in a potential NFC Championship game preview. The Packers and Saints are currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in SI’s Power Rankings. (Landov)
NFL POWER RANKINGS: Find out where your team is rankedKING: No doubting San Francisco after beating Pittsburgh

Drew Brees is sacked by Green Bay linebackers Clay Matthews (52) and Erik Walden during a Week 1 meeting between the Packers and Saints. Green Bay would go onto win, 42-34, in a potential NFC Championship game preview. The Packers and Saints are currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in SI’s Power Rankings. (Landov)

NFL POWER RANKINGS: Find out where your team is ranked
KING: No doubting San Francisco after beating Pittsburgh