Granderson cites examples of players returning to the NFL following illegal or prohibited activity. He says Williams was suspended for actions commonplace enough for the Saints to let a documentary film crew record them.
"In March 2009, Donte' Stallworth got drunk, got in his car and hit a pedestrian, killing him," Granderson wrote. "He was convicted of manslaughter and was suspended by the league … but not for long. He was reinstated after missing a season and signed with the Ravens. He has a lifetime suspension of his Florida driver's license, but in March he signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots."
Williams is reportedly seeking a framework for reinstatement. The league has indicated it could issue conditions if and when allowing Williams back into the game.
"Commissioner Roger Goodell will review Coach Williams’ status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms," the NFL said in announcing Williams' suspension. "Commissioner Goodell said he will give close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings."
Williams has, by all accounts, cooperated.
News reports recently said Williams assisted tornado victims in Missouri. Other reports said certain San Francisco 49ers still thought highly of Williams, even though he encouraged New Orleans Saints players to injured various 49ers during the playoffs last season.
Those types of stories can help shape public perceptions. They could score points with Goodell. Williams has also accepted his punishment meekly, declining to pursue an appeal. That should help him, too.
There is no NFL merit badge for reinstatement, however. Giving Williams a clear path back to the NFL would give him an easy way out. I'm more inclined to think the league will make Williams sweat a little.