Retired quarterback Kurt Warner, a target of a Gregg Williams bounty in what turned out to be Warner’s final game, thinks the NFL should turn the other cheek. Peter King and Don Banks of SI.com (King on PFT Live and Banks in an online column) have suggested that Williams could be the league’s next redemption case on a path recently walked by Mike Vick and Ben Roethlisberger.
It all sounds good and righteous and aspirational and appropriate. But it’s not all that pragmatic.
As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains it, a post-suspension Gregg Williams will have a hard time getting anyone who wears a helmet to respect him.
“If you’re a Rams player, and Williams comes back to work, how could you ever sit in a meeting room and take this man seriously? He’s a cartoon character now,” Miklasz writes.
“Even if Williams changes, and eliminates the rhetoric, I don’t see how Williams can lead effectively. After Goodell defangs Williams, his coaching personality could be stripped down to the point where Williams is too bland, too cautious, too worried about sending the wrong message.”
Miklasz is right. And there’s another layer to this. In order to get reinstated after 2012, Williams must cooperate with “further proceedings,” a broad term that presumably includes testifying against members of the 2009-11 Saints defense at the eventual appeal hearings regarding their suspensions.
If players already will be leery about listening to a man whom they regard as a cowardly buffoon for urging the infliction of injury despite never being in harm’s way and whose methods will be far more muted in the future, they’ll be even less likely to respond to a man whose loyalty to his players has been undermined dramatically by his testimony against the men who did his bidding in New Orleans.
Thus, with or without a lifetime ban by the league office or an unspoken blackballing by the NFL’s 32 teams, it will be difficult for Williams to ever get NFL players to accept him as a coach in the future.