Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has disputed Saints coach Joe Vitt’s contention that no New Orleans players ever intentionally tried to hurt an opposing player.
Smith, who faces the Saints defense twice a year, said a New Orleans defender admitted during a game that then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was ordering them to try to injure opponents.
"I actually had an altercation with a (Saints player) who told me firsthand," the five-time Pro Bowl receiver said Tuesday on the "Dave Dameshek Football Program" on NFL.com.
"I was going out of bounds, and the guy went for my ankle. I said, ‘Hey, man, cut that out.’ He’s like, ‘Well, we get fined if we don’t go after your legs when you go out of bounds.’"
Smith claimed he confronted Williams the last time the two teams played and said the now-suspended coach took responsibility. Smith said Williams admitted "it wasn’t right, but that’s who he was."
Last season, Saints safety Roman Harper was fined $15,000 for hitting Smith after the star wideout had crossed the goal line on a long touchdown. According to NFL.com, Harper is being looked at by the league in its probe of players who may have participated in the bounty system.
Penalties against individual players are expected to be announced soon by commissioner Roger Goodell, who hinted Tuesday that players could face serious sanctions.
"[The] evidence was clear that the players embraced it," Goodell told the NFL Newtwork. "I don’t think they are absolved from responsibility."