San Francisco 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams has become known worldwide for his two mishaps that cost his team the NFC Championship, but an overlooked element is that the Giants purposely targeted him due to his history of concussions.
Williams has received a ton of hate for his two misplayed punt returns that led to the Giants scoring 10 points and headed to the Super Bowl. Fans have been furious about the miscues -- some of them even issuing death threats on Twitter -- while every sports columnist around the country has rushed to compare Williams to Bill Buckner.
But does Williams really deserve all of the hate? Of course not, but perhaps some fans would even show some sympathy for the 49ers villain if they knew about his injury history.
New York Magazine's Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote on Monday about some of the bizarre answers coming out of the Giants locker room after their thrilling victory that sends them to the Super Bowl. A lot of the commotion within the locker room centered on guys like Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, and Lawrence Tynes, but it was the answers from two special teams' specialists that were the most interesting.
Jacquian Williams, who caused Williams' second fumble, admitted that the Giants purposely targeted the oft-used player due to his past concussions.
The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game, Williams said.
It didn't stop with the Giants' Williams, though. Devin Thomas, who recovered both of Williams' misplayed punt returns, also noted Williams' past concussions as part of the Giants' game plan.
He's had a lot of concussions, Thomas told the Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi. We were just like, 'We gotta put a hit on that guy.' ... [Giants reserve safety 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.
Whether Williams was suffering from the aftereffects of a hit or not is unclear. He has owned up to the mistakes he made and said that he isn't letting the Twitter talk bother him, but it's clearly a tough moment for the 23-year old backup.
It's one of those things you have to take accountability for, Williams said. Everybody is responsible for what they do on the field. It's something that I was responsible for and I made a mistake and it's time to own up to it and move forward.
Williams' behavior in dealing with the situation is admirable; considering that he was targeted with hard hits due to past head injuries. There is nothing wrong with what the Giants did, but it does put the whole situation into a different perspective.