The 27-year coaching career of Gregg Williams has brought so many experiences and taken him to so many different places. There have been stops in Los Angeles, Buffalo, New Orleans, Washington D.C., and, now, Cleveland, where he'll help mold the Browns defense.
But Williams' hometown of Excelsior Springs, Missouri — a city of roughly 11,000 people 30 miles outside of Kansas City — is never far from his mind.
"One of the things that I hope that you see from me and I know all the people that know me is that I'm as a regular of a dude that you're ever going to come across," Williams told ClevelandBrowns.com recently. "I'm really proud of growing up there and proud of my family and proud of the heritage of Excelsior Springs and proud of all the people who have helped me along the way."
It's why Williams helped create the Gregg Williams Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports young people in the Excelsior Springs area, to give back to his hometown. The Foundation — which has raised close to $2 million since 2004 — also donates funds to local community organizations in an effort to fortify the entire community.
Williams, who graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 1976 and began his coaching career in the district, is part of a six-member board that helps steer the Foundation under the guidance of his relatives, Tray and Kelly Harkins, who live in the area.
"(The foundation) means an awful lot to me because I was a kid that wasn't supposed to get out of that hometown, I'm a kid that somebody wrapped their arms around. I have a great family that still lives there in the community, that have returned into the community, brothers, sisters, sisters-in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, everybody," he said.
"A lot of people are still there in that town. But people helped me along the way and so it is important for those young kids in that town to know anything they want to do, they ought to be able to do if they want to work hard enough. And were going to provide funding, we're going to provide education, we're going to provide anything that these kids want to become as long as they're willing to work hard."
One of the Foundation's keystone events is the annual Gregg Williams Coaching Clinic, which is set for July 12 at Excelsior Springs High School. Browns linebacker coach coach Blake Williams and assistant defensive backs coach Jerod Kruse are expected to also headline the event. To RSVP or find out more, click here.
"I really believe that it's important for me to be one of the ones that passes the game on to somebody else," said Williams, who added he'd attended and learned from such clinics while working his way up the coaching ranks. "My gift to that profession is providing these times for coaches to learn and young coaches to learn."
And in the process, Williams helps give back to the place that gave him so much.
"So many people see me in so many different ways because of what they see on TV or what they see and read and heard about but when I go home every year to help the kids there, I get a chance to be me," he said. "Go back to my roots, go back to my footsteps, go back to the people. And they come around and they smile and they joke and they tell stories and they create memories. This week helps create great memories for that town."