Williams to work in Tampa front office

Updated: February 12, 2004, 5:50 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- More than 20 years after an ugly breakup, Doug Williams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back together.

The former Super Bowl MVP is quitting his job as Grambling State's football coach to work in the Bucs' front office as a personnel executive with duties that include evaluating pro players and assisting in recruitment of free agents.

"Getting out of the coaching element wasn't as hard as walking away from Grambling. Grambling is always going to be right there for me," Williams said, pointing to his heart.

"I think when you get an opportunity like I have here ... it makes it a little easier. At the same time, Grambling has been good for me, and I hope I've been good for Grambling. We still have to go on."

Williams said he had not spoken to most of his former players, but planned to do so when he returned to Louisiana. He'll clean out his office and return to the Bucs in time to attend next week's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

"We believe that some of the greatest assets of the league have been underutilized," Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said, explaining the decision to pursue Williams, who led the Redskins to the 1988 Super Bowl title.

"Doug has been successful at every level of football he has been involved in, and we think he'll help us become a better team," Allen said.

Williams leaves his alma mater with a 52-18 record in six seasons.

"It's a big shock, a huge shock," Grambling State spokesman Peter Forest said. "This is a huge loss to Grambling, no question."

Williams played for the Bucs from 1978-82 before a bitter contract dispute with former team owner Hugh Culverhouse led the quarterback to sign with the USFL's Oklahoma Outlaws.

He led Tampa Bay to the playoffs three times, including a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the 1979 NFC championship game. After he left, the franchise didn't post another winning record until 1997.

"What he accomplished here in Tampa was truly remarkable when you look at what happened here before his arrival and what happened after he left," Allen said. "I was in the USFL and remember how happy we were to get a player like Doug Williams."

Williams joined the Redskins in 1986 and led them to a 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos in the 1988 Super Bowl. He is the only black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

A back injury forced his retirement in 1989.

Williams became the second football coach in Grambling State history, replacing Eddie Robinson in 1997. Before that, he was a head coach at Morehouse, and his overall record is 55-26.

He also worked as a scout for the Jacksonville Jaguars and coached at Zachary, La., Northeast High School and Navy.

Bucs coach Jon Gruden approached Williams at last month's Senior Bowl. Williams was interested but didn't want to discuss anything in depth until after the college football recruiting period ended last week.

"I've always been one to say that if you have a job you take care of the job you have, and then if something else comes up you listen. That's what happened here," Williams said. "I had a job at Grambling. At the same time, I don't think it would be fair to me to close the door when I had a chance to talk to Bruce."

Growing up in Tampa as the son of a Bucs assistant, Gruden idolized Williams. He played catch with the quarterback on the sidelines before games and was devastated when Williams left for the USFL.

"I never saw a guy have command of an NFL team the way he did. ... Guys looked to him for results," Gruden said.

Williams harbored bad feelings about his departure from Tampa Bay until after Culverhouse died and the team was sold to current owner Malcolm Glazer, who hired Tony Dungy as coach in 1996.

When Gruden replaced Dungy in 2002, he invited Williams and other former players back to Tampa for a reunion the ex-quarterback felt was long overdue. Three of Williams' former teammates -- Richard Wood, Jimmie Giles and Parnell Dickinson -- attended Thursday's press conference.

"That's behind us. We're going to leave that part alone, and we're going to deal with what we have to deal with now," said Williams.

He actually was asked if he had a hex placed on the team because he was so upset about the way the team treated him.

"Let me ask you a question," he deadpanned. "When I left, how many games did they win? If I had put a curse on them, I can promise you that they wouldn't have won any."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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