NFL Reinstates 'Bountygate' Coach Gregg Williams; Tennessee Hires Him
On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Gregg Williams, the disgraced former defensive coordinator who was caught on tape encouraging players to knock out and deliberately target the heads of opposing players on offense.
And Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak hired him as an assistant coach on defense. His hire will get intense scrutiny, especially because of Williams' past instructions to defenders to deliberately attack the heads of players on offense.
"Commissioner Roger Goodell today notified Gregg Williams and the Tennessee Titans that Williams' contract with the Titans has been approved and that he has been reinstated," the NFL said in a statement.
The NFL said Goodell cited "several reasons for the reinstatement, including Williams' forthcoming acknowledgement of and acceptance of responsibility for his role in the bounty program at the Saints, his commitment to never again be involved in a pay-for-performance or bounty system, and his pledge to teach safe play and respect for the rules at all levels of the game."
"The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance," the statement said.
Munchak said he brought Williams on board after a "thoughtful and thorough process."
"I have known Gregg for (more than) two decades and have seen him work his way up from a quality control coach to a head coach," Munchak said in a statement. "He will bring a great deal of defensive knowledge and energy to our staff. The decision to bring him here only came after going through a thoughtful and thorough process."
Before the New Orleans Saints played the San Francisco 49ers in a 2012 NFC playoff game, Williams told Saints defenders to "affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head.”
“We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head," Williams said. "We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways.”
Williams also was caught on tape telling Saints defenders to "take out" the knee of a 49ers player, Kyle Williams, who was suffering from a knee injury.
Williams was the central figure in the "bountygate" scandal that led to the suspension of New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and others who were implicated. Williams allegedly operated similarly when he was coaching the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Bills. His reinstatement means the NFL has turned the page on the "bountygate" scandal.