Ronnie Lott said he had no idea what kind of furor he had unleashed in Northern California. Last year, old pal Sean Payton asked Lott to talk to his Saints team. In fact, he asked Lott to speak twice - once in the preseason and again before New Orleans played in the NFC championship game. So when Payton called last week to ask Lott to talk to his team a third time in advance of their Monday night game against the 49ers, Lott thought, no big deal.
"Well, it's a big, big deal," Lott told KHTK's Mike Lamb Wednesday evening. Lott received plenty of phone calls wondering if he had gone Benedict Arnold on his former team, and Lott's Sunday speech has been a hot topic on chat sites and sports radio from the Bay Area to Sacramento.
This year Payton is seeking speakers who know a thing or two about repeating, or failing to repeat, as champions. Former Broncos lineman Mark Schlereth and Lakers guard Derek Fisher already have spoken to the Saints this year. Lott was asked to speak on the same topic, and he said he felt obligated to do so because his 1982 team crashed so badly following the 1981 Super Bowl win. Lott said 15 players got into legal trouble that season. "The responsibility of saying, 'Hey guys, be careful. Exhaust the game, but don't put yourself in a situation where you ruin what you guys have earned,'" he said. "That's really the message."
Lott says he wasn't trading secrets and that he's done the same thing for the 49ers in the past. "I have talked to the team," he said. "I have spoken to the team. I recruited Taylor Mays. I've been talking to Taylor Mays. I want Taylor Mays to be great. I want him to have a great career."
But he said he'd speak to the Saints in the same situation again because his message is bigger than the game. "Sunday (sic) night I was sitting there like everyone else rooting my butt off for the 49ers because that's what you do," he said. "But I'm not going to turn my back on a fellow human being because he's got a Saints uniform on or a Giants uniform on."
Rookie Kyle Williams practiced in full for the first time since spraining his big toe Aug. 15 in a preseason game against the Colts. With Ted Ginn (knee) likely to miss another game, Williams might be the top option on punt returns.
Meanwhile, linebacker Takeo Spikes (knee), running back Anthony Dixon (back) and OL Adam Snyder did not practice Wednesday. Snyder was excused for personal reasons. Cornerback Will James (ankle) was limited in practice.
-- Matt Barrows