CHARLOTTE – Former Panthers assistant Richard Williamson, who coached with Carolina from the team's inaugural season in 1995 through 2009, has passed away after a brief illness. He was 74.
Williamson was one of the first assistant coaches hired by the Panthers and was a mainstay on the coaching staff for 15 years before retiring after the 2009 season. He worked under three head coaches – Dom Capers, George Seifert and John Fox – and was regarded as one of the best teachers in the NFL.
Wide receivers coach for all but one of his 15 years with Carolina, Williamson helped develop Muhsin Muhammad, Steve Smith and Rocket Ismail while coaching a number of other players, including Mark Carrier and Willie Green, to their most productive professional seasons. Green described Williamson as "the best coach I ever had." The Panthers had five 1,000-yard receivers who produced 11 1,000-yard seasons during his tenure.
"Rich was instrumental in developing some of the best WR talent in the NFL," Muhammad said. "He was a stickler on details and always had us prepared for our opponents. He will be dearly missed by all that worked and came into contact with him. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor, coach and friend."
Current Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl came to Carolina in 2003 and played under Williamson for three years.
"When I think of Richard, I think of your old school coach. He knew how to get the best out of you. He coached with tough love and got results, and I had a great respect for him," said Proehl, who continued to consult with Williamson after becoming the team's receivers coach.
Williamson played collegiately at Alabama with quarterback Joe Namath and legendary head coach Bear Bryant in 1961 and 1962 before joining the Crimson Tide's staff to start his coaching career. In addition to the Panthers, he coached in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs (1983-1986), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-1991), and Cincinnati Bengals (1992-1994).