NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gregg Williams thanked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstating him and he also apologized while taking “full responsibility” for his role in the New Orleans’ bounty scandal.
The NFL reinstated Williams on Thursday morning, and the Tennessee Titans hired him as a senior defensive assistant.
“I take full responsibility and apologize for my previous actions, and I’ve used this year to reorganize my life and put focus on positive energy and positive ways to inspire and coach and motivate in this profession,” Williams said, reading from a statement.
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“I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
The league issued a statement saying that Goodell cited several reasons for reinstating Williams, including Williams accepting responsibility for his role in the bounty program, his commitment to never be involved in any pay for performance system and pledging to teach safe play and respect for the rules.
“The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance,” the NFL said in its statement.
Williams, suspended indefinitely last March, is the last person involved in the scandal to be reinstated by league. New Orleans coach Sean Payton had his suspension lifted on Jan. 22.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six. Four current or former Saints players were also suspended after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.
Williams coached for the Saints between 2009 and 2011 and was hired as defensive coordinator by the St. Louis Rams in January 2012 before being suspended. Williams had been free to look for a new job in the NFL since the playoffs started, and now he is returning to the team where he got his start in the league back in 1990.
Titans coach Mike Munchak pointed out he has known Williams since 1990 when he first joined the then-Houston Oilers as a quality control assistant. Munchak spent the past month trying to figure out how to improve his defensive coaches, and he said he called Goodell for a long talk on the details of the bounty situation and Williams’ status.
“He knows changes have to be made in the way he’s done things in the past,” Munchak said of Williams. “I think we’re on the same page. I think we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Williams is here on a one-year contract, and he reported for work Thursday morning. He said he knows he has to work to change how people perceive him as a coach.
“I understand and respect the game an awful lot, and the past is the past and what I’m talking about right now is creating a resume from this day forward,” Williams said.
How well this move works remains to be seen, but Munchak faces a must-win situation going into his third season as head coach.
The Titans missed the playoffs in his first season on a tiebreaker in 2011 before slumping to a 6-10 record in 2012. Fans have not been happy that Munchak has kept Jerry Gray as his coordinator after a season when Tennessee set a franchise record by allowing 471 points, gave up at least 30 points in seven different games and ranked 27th in yards allowed.
Munchak previously made only one move on his defensive staff, firing linebackers coach Frank Bush and moving Chet Parlavecchio from assisting with special teams to linebackers coach.
Williams will be working with Gray, the same man he took with him to Buffalo when he was hired as the Bills head coach in 2001 after four seasons as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator under then-coach Jeff Fisher. Gray also worked with Williams at the Washington Redskins between 2004-07 before Williams worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008 and then with the Saints.