NFL: Giants did not hit Williams illegally

January 24, 2012, 6:34 pm
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The NFL has taken measures in recent seasons to protect players who sustain concussions.However, two New York Giants players -- Jacquian Williams and Devin Thomas -- suggested the team had a coordinated effort to target 49ers wide receiverpunt returner Kyle Williams because they were aware he had a history of concussions.Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of communications, told on Tuesday that there was nothing suspicious based on what occurred during Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park.
"Players are held accountable for their actions on the field," Aiello wrote in an email. "There were no illegal hits to the head or neck area against Kyle Williams on Sunday. There was no conduct by the Giants of any kind that would suggest an effort to injure Kyle Williams in any way."In a follow-up, asked Aiello if the NFL considered the matter closed. After all, the league has placed an emphasis on protecting players with head injuries. And two Giants players admitted they were aware of Williams' concussion history and were intent on sending him out of the game with a head injury."We do not have any further comment on it," Aiello replied.
The 49ers declined comment.Coincidentally, 49ers co-owner John York is the chair of the NFL's newly formed Health and Safety Advisory Committee. New York Giants owner John Mara serves on the committee.Williams sustained a concussion in the 49ers' game Christmas Eve in Seattle, and he was not cleared to take part in the regular-season finale Jan. 1 against the St. Louis Rams.Of course, Williams was the central figure in two game-changing plays as a punt returner in the Giants' 20-17 overtime victory. A fourth-quarter punt glanced off his right knee, allowing the Giants to recover and score a go-ahead touchdown. Then, in overtime, Jacquian Williams stripped him of the ball on a punt return and Thomas recovered. That turnover led to the winning points.Afterward, Thomas told the Newark Star-Ledger that the Giants' special-teams players were well aware of Williams' history of concussions."He's had a lot of concussions," Thomas said. "We were just like, 'We gotta put a hit on that guy.' . . . (Tyler) Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up."Late in the third quarter, Kyle Williams was hit hard by Sash, who dove at Williams as he was going to the ground at the end of a 9-yard return. Williams was slow to get up. Four other Giants players looked down at him as he was briefly bent over on both knees with his head on the ground. Prince Amukamara excitedly congratulated his teammate, Sash, on the hit.Jacquian Williams said in comments published on the New York Giants' official site, "The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game."

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