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Implementing programs on safety a key for Williams' return

  • By NFL.com
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There's no clear-cut timeline for when Gregg Williams possibly can resume his NFL coaching career, but Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly has detailed a path back to the league for the disgraced St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator.

"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," Goodell wrote in a letter to Williams, according to SI.com's Peter King. Williams was suspended indefinitely last week for his role in the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" scandal.

"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."

Williams previously apologized for his actions as Saints defensive coordinator, and he issued another remorseful statement after the NFL announced its punishments last week.

"I'd like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions," Williams said in the statement.

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"Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship. I accept full responsibility for my actions. I highly value the 23 years that I've spent in the NFL."

Saints head coach Sean Payton also earned a one-year suspension without pay, and general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season. The suspensions could be appealed, and SI.com reports that people are split in their viewing of the fairness of Payton's suspension, but league counsel Jeff Pash told the website that Goodell wanted to make a statement with the sanctions.

"The commissioner has been clear from day one that he wants to change the culture of the game," Pash said, while also adding that the league did not find bounty programs within other organizations.

"He wants to eliminate the gratuitous hits, and eliminate any excessive violence that has no place in the game. If accomplishing that includes harsh penalties that some people feel are excessive, then so be it. We are comfortable with the sanctions."

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