Williams on job amid bounty probe
ST. LOUIS (AP) For now, it’s business as usual for Gregg Williams, who is on the job behind closed doors with the rest of the St. Louis assistant coaches.
The parking lot at the team’s training facility is full this week because there’s plenty to do. Free agency starts next week, and there will be minicamps before and after the draft for the Rams, plus they’re all still getting to know the roster. There’s that No. 2 overall pick to deal with.
It can’t hurt staying busy while waiting for the hammer to fall.
Williams, the Rams’ new defensive coordinator, is facing a possible suspension and fine after admitting that he ran a bounty pool of up to $50,000 over the past three seasons when he was the defensive coordinator in New Orleans. The NFL said players received payoffs for knocking targeted opponents out of the game.
Whether Williams is shelved for two weeks, a month or longer, the Rams must make contingency plans.
Aside from releasing Williams’ apology, the franchise that inherited this scandal has had little to say. Players and coaches are not being made available for interviews.
“Coach Williams has shown contrition for his actions and continues to cooperate with the NFL in this investigation,” Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press. “Out of respect for the NFL’s ongoing process, we will refrain from commenting until the league has come to a final decision on all aspects of this matter.”
New coach Jeff Fisher was out of town and he isn’t talking, either, until the NFL issues its ruling. Williams met with NFL security officials on Monday as part of the league’s investigation; no timetable has been disclosed by the league for a decision from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Dick Vermeil, who has 19 years of NFL coaching experience including the Rams’ lone Super Bowl win in 2000, said in a telephone interview that he was unaware of any bounties during his coaching career.
“There were always rumors, but often it seemed like something of a joke, like you’d hear kids were throwing in 50 bucks apiece,” Vermeil said. “Hopefully, this is isolated, hopefully the story doesn’t get bigger as the investigation goes deeper.”
Like many players, Vermeil said he believes Williams’ reputation is solid around the league.
“Sometimes you can get caught up in the enthusiasm and intensity of the game and it overpowers your judgment,” Vermeil said. “But I like him, he’s a good man, and he made a mistake.”
Williams’ punishment could be stiffer given the NFL’s emphasis the last few seasons on reducing concussions – the definition of a knockout.
“That has been a big issue, and now this comes up,” Vermeil said. “I think it almost puts them under pressure to react more strongly when something like this is going on.”
Assistant head coach Dave McGinnis is the logical fill-in candidate at defensive coordinator should Williams be suspended. McGinnis is a former NFL head coach and has an extensive background in defense, including five years as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator from 1996-2000, and great success coaching linebackers under Fisher in Tennessee.
McGinnis built his reputation in a decade as linebackers coach with the Chicago, working with defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan and tutoring Hall of Famer Mike Singletary.