By Jeremy Clements
(Bethalto IL) A week ago the St. Louis Rams organization was sitting pretty, waiting to collect a king’s ransom for the 2nd pick in the NFL Draft. Now they await a decision from Roger Goodell on the fate of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. A decision which should be a several game suspension and fine.
Williams has admitted to funding a program that would award players sums of money if they injured opposing players, offering up to $1,000 if a hit resulted in the opponent being taken off on a cart or stretcher and $1,500 if the player was unable to return to the game. In one instance, Saints linebacker Johnathon Vilma offered $10,000 cash to someone who knocked Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship game, a move that was not only approved but applauded by Williams himself.
Commissioner Goodell has no choice but to levy a harsh penalty against the former New Orleans Saints coordinator who also has been linked to a similar program during his tenure in Washington. But what should the penalty be and should it have any affect on the Rams?
Let’s first put to rest any notions or concerns that this should cost the Rams any type of fine or draft day penalties. Williams hasn’t coached any games or had a chance to install any type of program like this at Rams Park. That said, what will affect the Rams is the possible, and highly probable, suspension of their defensive coordinator. The only way I could see the Rams having any adverse affects from this is if Jeff Fisher knew about this before the hire.
As I said earlier, Goodell has no choice but to suspend Williams. Since taking control of the NFL, Goodell has put concussions under the microscope, levying fines against players for hits on defenseless players and adding rules against helmet-to-helmet hits. So when behavior of this type occurs, the penalty has to be just as if not more severe.
Williams should be subject to an 8-game suspension and a fine worth at least $750,000. In addition the money that Williams would have made should be donated to the study of concussions and concussion related symptoms. I would also expect Williams to be watched like a hawk when he does return by officials from inside the commissioner’s office.
In addition to Williams, the New Orleans Saints should also be penalized. The penalty should be more severe than the $750,000 fine and first round pick that New England surrendered following Spy Gate in 2007. I would expect the fine to be at least $1,000,000 and they would also be forced to give up this year’s 2nd round draft pick and possibly even next year’s first round pick as well. They don’t have a pick in the first round of this year’s NFL because they traded it to move up to draft Mark Ingram.
Moving beyond the fines and probable suspension the Rams will have to move forward. Is there a chance the Rams could decide to fire Williams? Sure, but I don’t think that is likely after he was chosen by Fisher himself. At this point, Fisher and the rest of his staff should be developing a back up plan to cover for Williams who will likely be given a lengthy suspension. That may be the only bright spot for the Rams as situation unfolds. Both Jeff Fisher and assistant coach Dave McGinnis have previously served as defensive coordinators in their coaching careers, so they should be able to cope if a suspension is handed down.
Some will cry for Williams’ to be fired, others will say let him serve a suspension and then coach before evaluating his performance. Ultimately the franchise needs to do whatever will increase stability and held bring a sense of consistency to a team that has won just 15 games since 2006.
What do you think should happen?
Thanks for reading.