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By now, you've probably heard Gregg Williams' rant the night before the Saints played the 49ers in the playoffs. It is a disgusting rant from a disgusting person.

Williams exhorts his defensive players to harm the 49ers' best offensive players. He rubs his fingers together like someone offering cash when telling his guys to go for Alex Smith's chin. "Go lay that (expletive) out," he says. He is offering a bounty for knocking Smith out of the game.

He tells his players to "make sure we kill Frank Gore's head."

He refers to 5-7 Kendall Hunter as "Little 32," and says, "We want to knock the (expletive) out of him. When he's on the sidelines, we've got to run that (expletive) over, turn their coaches over, run the spectators over, go get that (expletive) on the sideline."

That sure sounds like telling his players to take cheap shots.

He says, "We need to find out in the first two series of the game the little wide receiver, No. 10 (Kyle Williams), about his concussion. We need to (expletive) put a lick on him right now." Williams had suffered several concussions prior to the game.

He encouraged his players to "take out" Michael Crabtree's ACL.

He counseled his players to wreck Vernon Davis' ankles.

And he also said this, a fair summary of his message: "Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early affect the head. Continue, touch it and hit the head."

That's a coach who told his players to take illegal head shots.

OK, we've got all that. And that leads to the main issue, one that Saints apologists, Williams apologists, and football brutalists (I made up that word) espouse: Football is a violent game and there's nothing wrong with what Williams said — except for being stupid enough to offer money and get caught. Defensive coaches say that kind of stuff — "Affect the head" — the night before every NFL game.

To which I say. No. No. No.

You'll have to take my word for this. I understand that. But I have been intimately involved with football for more than three decades. I was in Bill Walsh's night-before-game meetings at Stanford one entire season and I never heard vile talk like that. I heard about playing hard, but never inflicting concussions or going for ankles. And I never covered a team — to the best of my knowledge — with that renegade attitude. Not even the Raiders, who cultivated a renegade image.

Understand what I'm saying. The Raiders always have been more saints than the Saints, who have been anything but Saints. I'll get back to the Raiders in a moment.

Football is a sport. It is not war — even if jerks like Williams pretend it's war. It is a naturally violent game even when played within the rules, and people get hurt. Everyone understands that. But after the game, players from one side shake hands with players from the other side. Often, they pray together. These rituals mean, "We played hard. We played fair. And we are glad all of us are OK and can play again." Then the players walk off the field feeling good about the game, feeling good they did not try to maim the opponent or end his career.

Williams preached maiming and career ending.

People used to say the Raiders were a rogue organization — not anymore. The Raiders defenders never talked about ruining other players — not Ted Hendricks, not John Matuszak, not Jack Tatum, in spite of what he did to Darryl Stingley. Al Davis would tell his players, "The quarterback must go down and go down hard." Sure, he said that. But he never meant anything out of the rules or anything illegal. And he never offered money for career-threatening hits.

I'll tell you why. He was a football man. He understood how brutal the game is. He had respect for that brutality and did not advocate going beyond the rules.

And he had pride. When a coach projects the image Williams projected, it means he has no confidence in his players and must stoop to a low-life game plan. Williams' game plan was a mark of disrespect for his players, one he clearly expressed in his rant: "There may be better athletes," he said, "but not defensive players that have to go to war tomorrow and play the way we play."

Translation: "We're not good enough to win within the rules. But I have confidence everyone in this room is immoral enough to even the odds."

The public — a section of the public — has the perception football is like the Christians and the lions. It's all about carrying guys out on stretchers and watching the blood flow. But football players, for the most part, do not try to inflict malicious injuries — injuries which should yank Williams and the Saints organization into a court of law. To think football is what Williams preached is to embrace a lazy and incorrect perception. And I understand I stand with the establishment on this. So be it.

One other thing. Four times in his pep talk, Williams the Lion-Hearted, tells his players never to apologize for their violence. He ends with this no-apology message: "Another thing, we always say in this room is never apologize for the way we compete. If you're in this room, you understand that. We don't apologize."

After he got outed, after he understood his career is in jeopardy, Williams fell all over himself apologizing like a good little boy sent to the principal's office. As you read Williams' repentant statement to the Rams who had hired him after last season, imagine his face wet with tears, snot dripping out his nose.

"I'd like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my action. Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship."

Williams' drivel goes on, but I'll spare you. It's the living end that he invokes fatherhood as one of his ideals — like that matters. And you just love when he says what he did is not really him. Who is it then, Dracula?

But mostly, the mere act of apologizing is enough to make you sick. I don't believe him for one second, not this man who lectured the Saints about never apologizing. If he had any integrity, he would have refused to apologize. He would have stood behind his position and taken the heat. Coward.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.