Longtime NFL assistant coach and one-time Buccaneers head coach Richard Williamson died earlier this week after battling a heart condition.
Williamson, who was 74, was the head coach of the Buccaneers in 1990 and 1991 and an original Panthers assistant coach in 1995, who hung on through three different head coaches there until his retirement after the 2009 season.
While he helped many receivers to their some of their best work, he didn’t have a higher-profile pupil than Steve Smith, who would go onto a brilliant career in part because of the old-school lessons Williamson taught him.
Williamson leaned on all his receivers, but knew he had a special talent in Smith and worked him to the point of frustration from the then-young wideout, throwing his visor on the field at the exact spot he wanted Smith to break out of a route.
Asked about Williamson’s impact on his career in 2009, Smith made it clear the respect he had for Williamson.
“Over the years he’s lightened up compared to my rookie year,” Smith said. “He probably would say it was more of the student and less of the teacher. For his age, he still gets up and gets in guys’ grill as far as, ‘You need to do this.'”
Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Smith posted a message to Instagram this morning confirming the news, writing “when I didn’t want to listen or even work everyday he did!!! I was very lucky to have had him in my life.”
Williamson played at the University of Alabama under Bear Bryant and with Joe Namath, and began his coaching career there.
Our thoughts are with the Williamson family and the Panthers after their loss.