Longtime Panthers receivers coach Williamson decides to retire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After sticking around from the birth of the franchise and through three head coaches, longtime Carolina Panthers receivers coach Richard Williamson is giving up the long hours.

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Williamson, 68, announced his retirement Monday. He joined the Panthers in their inaugural season in 1995 and worked under coaches Dom Capers, George Seifert and John Fox, helping develop an impressive stable of receivers that includes Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad.

"It was great to be a part of the development of the Panthers from an expansion team to a Super Bowl contender," said Williamson, who praised team owner Jerry Richardson. "The organization is the class of the NFL.

"I'm sure I will miss coaching, but I'm looking forward to retirement. After 15 years in Charlotte, this is really home for us."

Williamson played at the University of Alabama, catching passes from Joe Namath, and started his coaching career working under the legendary Bear Bryant. Williamson moved up the ranks and had stints as the head coach at the University of Memphis from 1975 to 1980 and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1990 and '91.

Williamson spent 13 of his 15 seasons in Carolina as receivers coach. He took over as offensive coordinator in 2000 when Bill Musgrave abruptly quit during the season and held that role again in Seifert's final season as coach one year later.

Smith, Muhammad, Patrick Jeffers, Rocket Ismail and Mark Carrier all had 1,000-yard receiving seasons with the Panthers under Williamson. Smith went from a kick returner as a rookie to one of the game's top receivers.

"Richard was a valuable member of our coaching staff," Fox said in a statement. "He helped Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith develop into Pro Bowl receivers and was someone we all leaned on because of his experience and knowledge."

Williamson becomes the second assistant to leave since the end of Carolina's 8-8 season in 2009. Special teams coach Danny Crossman was fired last week.

Fox is entering the final season of his contract after being denied an extension by Richardson.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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