While the St. Louis Rams’ organization would like to focus its attention on the upcoming NFL Draft and their trade possibilities, the story involving their new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has stolen the spotlight.
News broke late Friday that Williams was the target of an NFL investigation for a bounty program in which players would win substantial financial compensation should they score a knockout of an opposing player. Higher profile players like Brett Favre have been mentioned as some of the biggest targets with the largest payouts.
Word is that Williams encouraged this behavior by maintaining a bounty fund for his defense while with the New Orleans Saints. Former players like Jonathan Vilma have been cited as the main culprits as well with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that: “In the week of the NFC Championship Game, Saints’ linebacker Jonathan Vilma put $10,000 in cash on a table and said ‘this goes to the guy that knocks out Brett Favre.'”
Such allegations will surely carry stiff penalties for all parties involved and according the Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Williams could learn his fate as early as Monday. He expects at least an 8-game suspension for Williams and more likely a year-long ban for the man supposed to resurrect the Rams defense in 2012.
These possibilities put the Rams in a difficult position for many reasons including the fact that now they need to find another suitable coordinator as soon as possible. For the credibility of the organization, it might be wise for the Rams to pre-empt the NFL in this situation and fire Williams amid this investigation rather than wait for the final verdict to be rendered. Having a coach with that type of baggage in an organization trying desperately to rebuild is just a toxic environment.
Williams is set to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell to learn his fate Monday, but the Rams could act before Goodell. While it may seem a bit extreme, look for the Rams to seriously consider dismissing Williams sooner rather than later before this already dirty story gets even filthier.