Bernie Bytes: Goodell challenges Gregg Williams
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Monday, March 26, 2012

* If you think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is in the mood to hit Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams with a lifetime ban from coaching in the NFL, guess again. Judging by Goodell's words to Williams, it appears that the Commish is willing to show mercy.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated disclosed the contents of a letter written by Goodell to Williams in handing down Williams' indefinite suspension for his leading role in the New Orleans' Bounty scandal.

According to the trustworthy King, this is what Goodell told Williams, and it obviously was intended to motivate Williams to do the right thing to gain reinstatement:

"I will review your status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether, and if so, on what terms, you may be reinstated and again eligible to be employed in the NFL. In making this decision, I will give considerable weight to the extent to which you cooperate with my office in any further proceedings, as well as developing and implementing programs designed to teach players and coaches -- particularly at other levels of the game -- how to play football in a way that is safe, fair, and that respects the game and those who participate in it ... I appreciate that this decision will be difficult for you. I hope you will use the opportunity to reflect on how you can return to the NFL in a way that honors the game and improves it for those who participate in it."

Goodell all but posted a five-point plan for Williams to follow to gain re-admittance to the NFL before the 2013 season. Goodell clearly wants Williams to take a positive and proactive role in speaking to high school players and coaches, college players and coaches, and youth football players and coaches.

Message: respect the game. Play hard and tough, but respect opponents and their families. Bounties are against the rules, and morally wrong. Do not let the inherent violence of the game, the desire to win, and the wolfpack mentality overtake your decency and common sense.

Williams should be comforted by Goodell's words.

Goodell is providing Williams with a path back to the NFL ...

* If Williams is reinstated, that doesn't mean the Rams will hire him back. It's too soon to know, though head coach Jeff Fisher clearly went out of his way last week to repeatedly praise Williams in a public setting. And don't forget that Fisher also hired Williams' son, Blake, as a defensive assistant. And Blake Williams isn't going anywhere (nor should he).

* But here's my question: can Williams be the same defensive coordinator when and if he returns? Williams has built his career on cultivating an aggressive, attacking and violent mindset within his defense. He has inspired at least some of his players by openly talking about the need to hurt opponents. And the bounty stuff aside, Williams' defenses traditionally have ranked high on the penalties list for personal fouls, unnecessary roughness, etc. So after the "Good Gregg" presumably spends much of next year going around the football nation giving talks to coaches and players about sportsmanship and respecting your colleagues, how does "Bad Gregg" plug back in as if nothing's happened? Will Williams lose his sharp teeth as a DC? Having been domesticated and deprogrammed will Williams be able to motivate players the same as he did before? Can a formerly hard-edged coach still get the same results if he dramatically softens those edges? Legit questions.