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Drew Brees and wife Brittany pose with their first child, Baylen, at their home in New Orleans in 2010. (Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI)

GALLERY: Classic Photos of Drew Brees

Drew Brees and wife Brittany pose with their first child, Baylen, at their home in New Orleans in 2010. (Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI)
GALLERY: Classic Photos of Drew Brees

Drew Brees gets his Saints teammates fired up before a 2008 preseason game against Arizona. Brees threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns on Monday in leading New Orleans to a 28-13 victory over Philadelphia. (Gene Lower/SI)

BURKE: Saints sink Eagles as Philly sinks further
GALLERY: Rare Photos of Drew Brees

Drew Brees gets his Saints teammates fired up before a 2008 preseason game against Arizona. Brees threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns on Monday in leading New Orleans to a 28-13 victory over Philadelphia. (Gene Lower/SI)
BURKE: Saints sink Eagles as Philly sinks furtherGALLERY: Rare Photos of Drew Brees

Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael dives into the endzone during a 2002 preseason game agains the Saints. (Bob Rosato/SI)

TROTTER: NFL Awards after five weeks

Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael dives into the endzone during a 2002 preseason game agains the Saints. (Bob Rosato/SI)
TROTTER: NFL Awards after five weeks

Walter Payton jumps over a pile of defenders to score a touchdown during a 1984 Bears-Saints game. Later in the game, Payton would pass Jim Brown as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. (Andy Hayt/SI)

GALLERY: Rare Photos of Walter Payton | NFL’s All-Time Top RBs

Walter Payton jumps over a pile of defenders to score a touchdown during a 1984 Bears-Saints game. Later in the game, Payton would pass Jim Brown as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. (Andy Hayt/SI)
GALLERY: Rare Photos of Walter Payton | NFL’s All-Time Top RBs

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma lays a hit on Rams back Steven Jackson during a 2011 Saints-Rams game. Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season by Roger Goodell, but is suing the NFL Commissioner for defamation and is hoping the case goes to trial. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

ROSENBERG: Vilma faces tough task against most powerful man in sports

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma lays a hit on Rams back Steven Jackson during a 2011 Saints-Rams game. Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season by Roger Goodell, but is suing the NFL Commissioner for defamation and is hoping the case goes to trial. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ROSENBERG: Vilma faces tough task against most powerful man in sports

Jonathan Vilma stands over Sam Bradford after laying him out for a sack during a 2010 Saints-Rams game. The NFL suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season for his role in the Saints bounty scandal. (John Korduner/Icon SMI)

BANKS: Saints will feel impact of Payton’s suspension

Jonathan Vilma stands over Sam Bradford after laying him out for a sack during a 2010 Saints-Rams game. The NFL suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season for his role in the Saints bounty scandal. (John Korduner/Icon SMI)
BANKS: Saints will feel impact of Payton’s suspension

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover features Saints LB Jonathan Vilma, who is at the center of the team’s bounty scandal. (Bill Frakes/SI)

PURCHASE A COPY OF THIS WEEK’S COVER

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover features Saints LB Jonathan Vilma, who is at the center of the team’s bounty scandal. (Bill Frakes/SI)
PURCHASE A COPY OF THIS WEEK’S COVER

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

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

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


Added at 10:59am156 notes

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

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

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees catch up in front of a throng of reporters following a Packers-Saints game last September. SI’s Jim Trotter has the two listed at No. 1 and 2 in his ranking of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

TROTTER: Ranking the quarterbacks - from Rodgers to Tebow to Palko

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees catch up in front of a throng of reporters following a Packers-Saints game last September. SI’s Jim Trotter has the two listed at No. 1 and 2 in his ranking of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)
TROTTER: Ranking the quarterbacks - from Rodgers to Tebow to Palko