Our job is to inflict pain.
No, thats not a section of the transcript from the speech former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams gave to his unit the night before an NFC playoff game with the San Francisco 49ers. Already on indefinite suspension from the league for his role in bounties New Orleans handed out, Williams future in the game looks dark indeed after audio of his pre-game pep talk came out last week.
Kill the head and the body will die, he said. Weve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill (running back) Frank Gores head.
Theres been an understandably mixed reaction to Williams and the whole bounty thing. We Americans love our sausage, but as stated by television hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg on Friday morning, were not keen to see it made.
We Americans love our football, too. Why?
We love it because, for the most part, its a meritocracy. The best players play. The best teams win.
We love it because it helps identify ourselves as Bulldogs or Gators.
We love it because we get a week to second-guess coaching staffs.
Mostly though, we love it because its violent. We marvel at the boys to men who hit and get hit and then get up and do it again. If they dont get up? Well, thats the price of doing business, right?
Players have an instinct for self-preservation. They keep their head on a swivel. They adhere to the adage that one risks injury when letting up.
Beyond that, the vast majority of players Ive met -- at all levels -- dont strike me as necessarily violent. Their better nature understands the illogic of running full speed into another human being who is, typically, doing the same thing. They need to be motivated. Aggression needs to be stoked.
Thats the value of coaches such as Williams. They build the bonfires at which the rest of us warm our hands and sing our fight songs.
The quote to open the column? That came from a unit coach of a local high school football team during warm-ups prior to a game last fall.
At the risk of painting all football coaches with a broad brush, Im not naming the one I overheard. After all, he didnt say, Our job is to injure someone.
Yes, its a fine line. But for football fans, its the best one we have.
Contact Chris Deighan at email@example.com.