Gregg Williams was the first person Jeff Fisher hired after taking the St. Louis Rams' head coaching job. Williams and Fisher have a long history together, working side by side in Tennessee and developing a lifelong friendship. Williams' predicament in the New Orleans Saints bounty program also put his old friend in a tough spot.
Since news of program broke, Fisher has been in the unenviable position of distancing himself from the situation while remaining loyal to Williams, not to mention figuring out a way to replace his defensive coordinator. The Rams head coach was walking that thin line again during a Friday morning appearance on ESPN's Mike and Mike show, and he may have veered onto the wrong side of it.
Fisher claimed that the bounty hits did not produce player injuries, a direct contradiction to the NFL report.
" ... there were people standing up in front of the meetings and saying 'look guys let's see if we can take this guy out ... ' not that it ever happened, because I don't believe there was an injury associated with those type of things that was said in a meeting, but the point is, you just don't say it and that is where we have the problem."
The league report reads:
A review of the game films confirms that opposing players were injured on the plays identified in the documents.
Two prominent players, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, were targets of the bounty program and both suffered injuries against the Williams-coached Saints defense. The hit on Warner came in his last game before announcing his retirement.
It's a troublesome spot for Fisher, but nothing that will land him in hot water. In fact, Fisher again stated that the Rams would not have hired Williams had they known of the bounty investigation. Williams, however, did know about the investigation because the NFL report says that the Saints coaching staff had been warned to put an end to the practice. The key here is Fisher's use of the word "consequences" versus the investigation itself.
"Had we been aware of it, we would not have made that hire, and nor would have Gregg accepted the job had he been able to anticipate the consequences."
In the ultimate display of loyalty, Fisher left open the possibility of re-hiring Williams should the league reinstate the defensive coordinator.
"You know we have to consider that. I think there will be a lot of conversations at the league-office level. Gregg is very, very remorseful at this point. He regrets everything that took place. He came out in his statement and said that. And I think Gregg, at the end of the day, is going to do some great things for this league off the field before he comes back."
Just what kind of access Williams is granted to the game, of any, from the league will not be known until well into the future, most believe 2013 at the earliest.