MIAMI -- When someone put this blog entry in front of Gregg Williams, his reaction was unsurprising.
He didn’t love it.
WilliamsI’m glad to say instead of muttering about it to the Saints PR staff, he shot me an e-mail. I covered him in his first NFL defensive coordinator job with Houston and Tennessee. Like with a lot of coaches you get to know as a reporter and see move on, we’ve crossed paths and had friendly conversations in the years since.
We followed up our e-mail exchange with a phone chat just now, and I wanted to revisit the topic of his son Blake, the offensive assistant for the Saints, who I do not know and have not covered.
Gregg Williams said he did all he could to discourage Blake from going into coaching when he worked his first internship with Washington. Only when he realized he couldn’t dissuade his son, did he relent and embrace the idea.
It’s easy for people like me to claim nepotism when I see father with son. That's an oversimplification that can be unfair.
In his initial e-mail, Williams quickly ran down a list of some pretty successful sons: Rex and Rob Ryan, Brian Schottenhiemer, David Gibbs, Kyle Shanahan, Todd Haley, David and Mike Shula, Wade Phillips and Kirk Olivadotti as well as Pete Carmichael, Jr., Adam Zimmer and Joe Lombardi, who are all on Sean Payton’s Saints staff like Blake Williams.
There is a side to their coaching starts I neglected to mention when I said I’m not a fan of them being on the same staff as dad. A lot of people are quick to look at a Blake Williams and presume he’s got his job only because of who he is, showing an unwillingness to let him earn, or fail to earn, a reputation on his own. Players and media may be extra skeptical until a guy is proven.
Guilty as charged. I made reference to a birth certificate trumping a résumé, but a guy is allowed to have both or use the first to get a chance to build the second. Following in the family business is no crime.
Blake Williams is a Princeton graduate. His dad, whom I respect, says Blake is a grinder willing to outwork people.
And the way young men are being hired as head coaches these days, maybe it won’t be long before Gregg is working under Blake and not vice versa.
I still prefer the idea of a son earning his coaching chops on someone else’s staff. And I still say if a no-nepotism rule that Bud Adams has in place prevented the Titans from a reunion with Williams when Jeff Fisher wound up promoting Chuck Cecil, I have no problem with that.
But in the same way, Sean Payton has the liberty to choose differently. That’s fine too.
He seems to have made some decisions that have panned out just fine for him this season.
One additional note: Blake's little brother Chase probably won't be part of this conversation anytime soon, as he could be on track to play in the league. He was just named to the Super Prep All America Team as a linebacker and is already enrolled at Virginia Tech.