NFL: Key figure in Saints bounty scheme reinstated

Gregg Williams, the major figure in the New Orleans Saints payoffs-for-injuries bounty scheme, was reinstated Thursday by the National Football League after being suspended indefinitely 11 months ago.

Williams was informed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that he was reinstated and as a result is able to work for the Tennessee Titans as a defensive senior assistant coach.

"Roger Goodell today notified Gregg Williams and the Tennessee Titans that Williams' contract with the Titans has been approved and that he has been reinstated," the league said in a statement.

Saints coach Sean Payton was slapped with a season-long ban that ended last month when then-defensive coordinator Williams was banned for his part in a programme of financial rewards for injuring opponents from 2009-2011.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended without pay for the first eight games of last season and Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended without pay for the first six games of last season.

Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita had their suspensions overturned on appeal last December by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. All were allowed to play last season while appealing their case.

Tagliabue did, however, back the NFL's contention that the bounty scheme endangered player safety and warrented greater blame to the organization and coaches and cited Williams' post-ban actions in ending his banishment.

"The commissioner cited several reasons for the reinstatement, including Williams' forthcoming acknowledgement of and acceptance of responsibility for his role in the bounty program at the Saints, his commitment to never again be involved in a pay-for-performance or bounty system, and his pledge to teach safe play and respect for the rules at all levels of the game," the NFL said.

"The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance."

Williams spent 11 seasons with the Titans from 1990 to 2000 and is well known to Tennessee coach Mike Munchak.

"He will bring a great deal of defensive knowledge and energy to our staff," Munchak said. "The decision to bring him here only came after going through a thoughtful and thorough process."