As soon as the Saints bounty story broke, Mark Maske of the Washington Post revealed that, unsurprisingly, Gregg Williams employed similar practices when he was defensive coordinator of the Redskins. CBS DC’s David Elfin delved into more detail on Friday:
It was the Wednesday before Washington opened the 2006 “Monday Night Football” season against visiting Minnesota and former Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson. Assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams knew about the bad blood between Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Johnson and decided to do something about it in the defensive meeting room.
“Gregg came in and dropped $15,000 on the (table) and said, ‘Brad Johnson doesn’t finish this game. This is Wednesday and the money will go up later in the week. It could double or triple by the end of the week,’ “one of the players recalled. “A couple of guys kinda got excited. (Defensive line coach) Greg Blache said, ‘If you get fined, it will be taken care of.’
Was Williams the sole financier of that cash on the table? Several context clues suggest that he may not have been.
Williams was aware of “bad blood” between Snyder and Johnson. The cliff notes of why this would have been: In 1999, Johnson threw for 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and over 4,000 yards as the Redskins went 10-6 and won a playoff game. In the ensuing offseason, Snyder would bring in the immortal Jeff George to be Johnson’s “back-up.” Johnson and the Redskins started the year at 6-3 but Johnson would be pulled for George entering Week 10. With George at starting quarterback, the Redskins went 1-4. The Redskins finished the season at 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Johnson would sign with Tampa Bay in the offseason and win the Super Bowl in his second season with the Bucs. (In case you were wondering, yes, I did just spend 20 minutes going through the game-by-game box scores of the 2000 Redskins on Pro Football Reference to figure this out.) Between 2000 and 2006 (as well as since), the Redskins have been the Redskins.
Why would Williams care enough about a feud that was six years old where the side he was taking appeared pretty clearly to be in the wrong? He was making $2.7 million a year at the time, which is about $1.4 million after taxes (I figured this out using the after-tax income calculator. Intrepid research!) $15,000 would have been more than 1% of his yearly after-tax wages. Seems like a significant cost to cover a feud that, once again, a) wasn’t his, and b) he was defending the wrong side of.
Brad Johnson did win a Super Bowl with the Bucs but his status doesn’t exactly fall into the elite category of the other players that we have learned were targets of Williams bounties: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Cam Newton, and Shaun Alexander. The quote from d-line coach that fines will be “taken care of” only furthers my suspicion that this was not a case of the Redskins defensive assistants acting alone.
We’ll never find out for sure but these specific details make it seem that it was impossible for Joe Gibbs to be, as he has claimed, blissfully unaware of Williams’ tactics and perhaps imply that Daniel Snyder had a hand in their financing.
If this was somehow found out to be the case, what on Earth would Snyder’s punishment be? (Since we’re dealing purely in hypotheticals anyway, let’s also assume that he lied to Goodell about it when first investigated and was later shown to have contributed to the bounties and lied.) A $10 million suspension? Could he be forced to sell the team? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!