Former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton made an appearance on ESPN Radio in Chicago and gave his take on Gregg Williams and the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
“I think that the facts, when they first came out, I took a strong position,” said Tarkenton. “I was outraged by it. The players I talked to from my generation are outraged about it. We didn’t play with bounties. Dick Butkus didn’t have bounties on anybody, or there wouldn’t have been anybody to play because he would’ve killed them all. This is nonsense. Goodell came down strong, then we hear this Gregg Williams on tape. They’re doing a documentary: he knows he’s being taped! So he is saying, “let’s hit him in the head.” He’s very graphic, “let’s go check the ACL out, see if that ACL is really there, if it’s really healed, let’s see if that concussion’s really healed with Crabtree.” All these vicious, awful, knowing he’s being [taped], so you got to think this guy thinks it’s ok. Now I hear these ex-jocks, modern ex-jocks, back then “ah, this is the way it is in football, this is just the way things are,” and now I’m hearing some of the same stuff from the ESPN jocks doing that. The American people should be outraged. This is not the way it is. That’s not what the foundation of football was about. Goodell has already come down hard on Payton and Loomis and Gregg. Gregg Williams should never be able to be in the NFL again. He has done this at Tennessee, he did it in Buffalo, he did it with the Washington Redskins, he’s done it here. I got a YouTube video of when Peyton Manning’s neck got hurt the first time because he had a bounty on him by Gregg Williams where someone hit him low and another guy hit him around the head and twisted his neck. It was unbelievable. That’s where it started. That would trickle throughout the league. That would trickle down to college, down to high school football. The American public should be outraged at this, and I know Roger Goodell is outraged because if this spreads, this sport is dead.”
I completely agree with Tarkenton’s view that football shouldn’t be about “taking guys out” or “hurting” the opposing players. I believe that current and former players have convinced themselves that this is how football should be and it’s not.
Tarkenton believes that Saints head coach Sean Payton knew what was going on with Williams and the bounty program.
“The Head Coach, all of them, knew what was going on. Football, you live together for eight months. Everyone knows what’s going on. They knew what was going on. It came out in the investigation that Goodell was going for two years, the owner finally knew in January in this year, Payton knew, they all knew, the players knew, and they did nothing about it before this. Here’s what’s awful about this: Gregg Williams knows he’s getting taped. Sean Payton knows he’s getting taped. And he goes and has this, it’s just awful, just sickens your stomach. So, no, I don’t think he’s the only rogue coach that talks like this and does this, but I think he’s the one you know did this and he’s the one that advocated it. He should be banned, forever. He ought to be convicted. He ought to go to prison. This is criminal behavior. I think the lawsuits that will come out of this will absolutely be staggering because if you’re Brett Favre, if you’re Kurt Warner, if you’re the tight end up there in San Francisco, Vernon Davis, if you’re Crabtree, if you’re Frank Gore, don’t you think their lawyers are talking to them today saying ”we got a lawsuit here?’”
It’s almost comical that Payton attempted to defend himself by saying he didn’t know about it and that Williams went “rogue.” Goodell knows the truth and that’s why Payton’s suspension is still for an entire year.