Gregg Williams is tucked away somewhere in the distance. That's been the case for months.
"People are going to say I'm wrong for saying this, but he's good for this league," linebacker Scott Shanle told Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. "... This is going to sound like an excuse and people don't want to hear an excuse -- that type of language is not just Gregg Williams. It goes on in a lot of locker rooms around the league. No one took him literally. It was a way to get you to play, fast, violent, nasty and together."
Shanle's not alone. Duncan paints the picture of a locker room anxious to defend their former defensive coordinator. You can't find a critic inside the building.
"Gregg was a great coach and a great motivator," safety Roman Harper told Duncan. "You love playing for him. You probably hate playing against him. That's just the way he is. He coached the game the way it's supposed to be coached and let you play the way it's supposed to be played."
The NFL's investigation into the Saints' alleged pay-for-performance program is based on the premise that Williams did everything but coach in a way the league encourages. Saints players, especially linebacker Jonathan Vilma, have called for proof of the team's alleged wrongdoing.
Good luck finding a player on this team willing to throw Williams under the bus. There's nothing but praise:
â¢ From safety Malcolm Jenkins: "I don't think you'll hear anybody that's ever played for him throw him under the bus. He played a pivotal role in my career and learning the game of football. What I do on the field is a direct reflection of his coaching."
â¢ From Shanle: "You always saw the brash side of Gregg but there were just so many different levels to him that people didn't get to see," Shanle said. "My concern is the NFL will be missing out on a fantastic coach if they keep him out of this league."
â¢ From Harper: "He will definitely be missed, his mannerisms, the way he talked, the way that he coached you and the way that he let you just go out there and play and just cut it loose and really let the players dictate and manage the game. Everything about Gregg. He's just such a different wild guy."
Wherever Williams is today, and whether or not he coaches again in the NFL, his former players appear to see a victim, not a guilty man.