The NFL is in trouble. Not on the field, or in the stands, or in TV executives’ offices, but in courtrooms.
The NFL is facing an avalanche of concussion-related lawsuits from former players. These players believe that the NFL didn’t take concussions seriously during their playing days and didn’t do enough to protect them or inform them of the dangers of head trauma. In effect, these players are attacking what they see as a permissive culture in the NFL, one in which players are intentionally treated as disposable pieces of meat.
The recently released audio of former New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams giving his players a pep talk on the eve of a playoff game will only add fuel to the growing fire nipping at the feet of NFL owners and executives.
“Kill the head and the body will die,” said Williams repeatedly on the audio released by documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon.
Williams had additional despicable quotes during his presentation to his team before the game with the San Francisco 49’ers, including “Make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.” Gore is the 49’ers star running back. “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.”
Williams also told his players that 49’ers receiver Michael Crabtree “becomes human when we … take out that outside ACL (anterior cruciate ligament in the knee).
He also encouraged targeting 49’ers quarterback Alex Smith’s head.
“And we’re going to kill the [expletive] head. Every single of of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head … continue to touch and effect the head.”
For now, completely disregard the total lack of sportsmanship, the total disdain for the spirit of the game, inherent in these comments. Focus on what he’s asking his players to do in this era of increasing awareness of the serious ramifications resulting from concussions and repetitive brain trauma. He’s calling on his players to intentionally traumatize fellow competitors’ brains, action that has been shown to lead to early dementia, depression, and a variety of other neurological problems that severely limit the quality of life of former NFL players.
The release of the Williams tape comes on the heels of the Saints’ Bountygate case in which Williams and Saints head coach Sean Payton condoned a “pay-for-injury” scheme that paid Saints players for inflicting injuries resulting in “cart-offs.”
NFL lawyers have to be sweating and losing sleep these days. When they do get to sleep, they’re probably hearing the words “Kill the head and the body will die” over and over in their nightmares.
The NFL culture is now on trial and things could get ugly — and expensive — for Commissioner Roger Goodell and his ownership club.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon