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After Goodell punishes Williams, Rams should follow suit and fire him

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist
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The Rams should save face and give Gregg Williams the hook now. (AP)  
The Rams should save face and give Gregg Williams the hook now. (AP)  

The NFL had former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in its offices Monday to inquire into the depth of his involvement in the "Bounty Gate" scandal that might encompass more teams than the Saints. I'm talking about Washington, Buffalo and possibly Tennessee, all Williams' stops in the past.

But I don't care about the past, and neither should the league. I care about the future, and what the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell should do to stop this and stop it now.

Williams already admitted his culpability in running a bounty system in New Orleans, calling it "a terrible mistake" while saying "we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry."

That's chivalrous. But it's also too late. I mean, if he knew it was wrong then, why didn't he stop it? Worse, why did he promote it? I don't know, either, but it's no coincidence we got a mea culpa from Williams after he and the Saints were caught.

Say no more. First of all, Goodell should and will suspend Williams. That is only fair and right. My next suggestion is that the St. Louis Rams do what's right, too, and fire the guy.

You heard me. Get rid of him, and here's why: Williams got himself a new job after breaking the law, and, I don't know, but I don't think that's how the system is supposed to work. I remember when Notre Dame hired George O'Leary as its head coach, only to discover he lied on his résumé. Five days after he was hired, he resigned, citing "the integrity and credibility" of the school's program.

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So what about the integrity and credibility of the St. Louis Rams? Isn't that at stake with the retention of Williams? I think it is, and I'm not alone. I spoke with a coach and GM on Monday who think it's necessary that the Rams jettison Williams but who conceded it probably won't happen for a couple of reasons: 1) Coach Jeff Fisher goes way back with Williams when they worked together under Buddy Ryan, so it puts Fisher in an awkward position; and 2) the league office almost certainly will sit down Williams for him.

But that shouldn't take the Rams off the hook.

Look, Fisher is one of the league's most respected head coaches. Moreover, he's someone who once co-chaired the league's competition committee and who returned to that group this year shortly after the Rams hired him. So what? So it's the competition committee that reviews NFL rules and makes recommendations designed to make the league better and safer.

Yet Fisher is also the guy who just hired someone who wantonly disregarded the league's rules and recommendations. Worse, he's someone who paid players for three seasons to injure others while the league's competition committee and its commissioner pushed a policy aimed at player safety.

So what part of this is Jeff Fisher missing? Gregg Williams is not to be trusted. For that matter, neither are Saints coach Sean Payton or general manager Mickey Loomis, both of whom have roles in this ugly episode by doing nothing when they knew a bounty program existed.

Just a hunch, but they wouldn't sit on their hands if someone put a bounty on Drew Brees' head ... and maybe that's what it takes to make these guys understand what they allowed to happen.

Goodell will deal with them, and he should. And what he should do is crush them and the Saints to remind others that under no circumstances can this or will this be allowed to happen again.

Not just by New Orleans. By anyone, period. That is the only message that needs to go forward.

But in keeping Gregg Williams, I would suggest the Rams miss that message. They don't need to be involved with an assistant coach who ran an outlaw program any more than Notre Dame needed to be involved with a head coach who lied on his résumé.

Gregg Williams broke NFL laws and will be punished. But it's not just commissioner Roger Goodell we need to hear from next. It's the St. Louis Rams.

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