Richard Williamson, 68, retired as the Panthers' receivers coach today, and thus ended an era. Williamson was one of the few remaining "only" guys, as in "the only coach who has been with the team since its inception." There's still John Kasay, the "only" Panther left from the original roster, and Jerry Richardson, the team's "only" owner, but there aren't too many more anymore.
Williamson was as old school as a one-room schoolhouse teaching grades K-12. The guy played under Bear Bryant, caught TD passes from Joe Namath and later, as an assistant under Bryant, helped recruit Danny Ford to Alabama. Williamson was a screamer, too.
A "fire and brimstone" guy, as tight end Wesley Walls once said, adding that Williamson could have been a good Baptist preacher if he had wanted to.
If the pass route called for a cut at 12 yards and you made it at 10, Williamson would run onto the field, whip down his white visor at the spot you should have made the cut and start barking.
But man, the guy was good. It's no coincidence that Mark Carrier, Willie Green, Muhsin Muhammad, Donald Hayes, Patrick Jeffers and, of course, Steve Smith, all had the best years of their career under Williamson. Williamson could and did rub his WRs the wrong way sometimes because he was so tough on them -- at times he was very sparing with praise and very free with criticism.
But that old crusty guy could coach, and he was best as a position coach. Williamson had gigs as a head coach in college and in the pros (at Tampa Bay), and he was the offensive coordinator for the Panthers for nearly two years when Bill Musgrave abruptly quit because of a strained relationship with George Seifert four games into the 2000 season.
John Fox put Williamson back at the WR role when he came on the staff in 2002, and that was probably about right. That's where Williamson seemed to flourish. It won't be the same around Panther land without him.