Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Richard Williamson has passed away at the age of 74.
Williamson spent 27 years coaching in the NFL and another 18 tutoring players on the collegiate level. He became the fourth head coach in Buccaneers franchise history on December 3, 1990, remaining in that position for the remainder of the 1990 season and all of 1991. Williamson's final coaching stop was his longest one, as he was an assistant for the Carolina Panthers from 1995-2009. The Panthers' team web site said that Williamson died after a brief illness.
"We are very saddened by the loss of Richard Williamson," the Buccaneers said in a statement. "Richard dedicated the majority of his life to the sport of football, spending over forty years as a coach at both the collegiate and professional levels. During his career, including his five seasons as a member of our organization, Richard distinguished himself as a very good coach and even better person. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family."
Williamson first came to the Buccaneers in 1987 to guide the wide receivers under new Tampa Bay Head Coach Ray Perkins, after starting his NFL career in Kansas City. Williamson eventually became the assistant head coach, and then took over the top job when Perkins was let go with three games remaining in the 1990 season. The Buccaneers won their first game under Williamson, 26-13 over the Minnesota Vikings, then went 3-13 in 1991.
Williamson was a highly-respected figure at Buccaneers headquarters, known for his kindness to the staff. In the display chronicling the history of the team's head coaches in the lobby of the new One Buccaneer Place, he is described as "even-keeled, quiet [and] upbeat."
After three years in Cincinnati, Williamson was brought to Charlotte by Dom Capers, the new head coach of the expansion Carolina Panthers. He spent the next 15 years coaching the Carolina receivers, also serving as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach under George Siefert in 2000 and 2001. Williamson stayed with the Panthers through the tenures of three different head coaches (Capers, Siefert and John Fox) before retiring after the 2009 season. During that time, he worked with such players as Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad and Mark Carrier, one of his former chargers with the Buccaneers. Panther wideouts produced 11 1,000-yard receiving seasons under Williamson's guidance.
Williamson is survived by his wife, Norma, and their two children, Rich and Caroline.